David Cameron’s first wide-ranging shuffle of his ministerial team is underway, with health secretary Andrew Lansley the biggest casualty.
Mr Lansley has been replaced as health secretary by former culture secretary Jeremy Hunt and moved to leader of the House. Norman Lamb, who served as the Liberal Democrat’s spokesman on health in opposition has replaced care minister Paul Burstow.
Meanwhile, housing minister Grant Shapps has been promoted to Conservative party chairman. He will be replaced by former business minister Mark Prisk.
Experts warned that Mr Lansley’s move posed dangers for the prospect of reform to social care.
Richard Humphries, senior fellow at the King’s Fund, said: “Whatever the qualities of individuals, a change of minister slows things down at a time when we need social care reform to speed up, and that’s the problem.”
Meanwhile, LGA adviser Andrew Cozens said: “I’d be worried about a slide back to square one with social care reform. There’s a lot riding on the white paper and the draft bill.”
Other sources had predicted that the removal of Mr Burstow as care minister could prove equally damaging “because he understands the brief and has worked very hard”. However it is likely that the appointment of Mr Lamb will go some way to allaying those concerns given that he represented the Lib Dem’s on cross party talks on care reform ahead of the general election. Mr Lansley is widely belived to have blocked Mr Lamb’s appointment as care minister upon the formation of the coalition.
Environment secretary Caroline Spelman has been replaced by former Northern Ireland secretary Owen Paterson, while outgoing chief whip Patrick McLoughlin has been given the job of transport secretary.
And with elections to the position of police and crime commissioner due to take place around the country in a matter of months, policing minister Nick Herbert has resigned from government. In a tweet, he said he would “focus on promoting new ideas and protecting the countryside”.
Other junior ministers to leave the government include children’s minister Tim Loughton.
More to follow