Pensions  

Who is new DWP chief Stephen Crabb?

Who is new DWP chief Stephen Crabb?

Anti-gay equality, pro tax cuts for corporations and the 1 per cent and ironically in favour of the sort of restrictions on disability payments his predecessor left post over – who is Stephen Crabb?

It used to be a week was a long time in politics.

But in the internet age no-one has time for seven days of anything anymore, so ministers are helpfully (except for us poor journalists who have to work it) cramming major political upheavals into a weekend.

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By Sunday night (20 March), Britain had open warfare between pension minister Ros Altmann and her ex-boss Iain Duncan-Smith, who, having slipped in a cheeky resignation before heading home on Friday, was himself embroiled in a public quarrel with the government.

Into this fray on Saturday (19 March) stepped new secretary of state for work and pensions Stephen Crabb - a man its doubtful many beyond his Pembrokeshire constituency were aware of four days ago.

Someone you had likely never heard of on Friday now holds one of the most high-profile briefs in government, with the power to make sweeping changes to your clients’ retirements.

So, who is Mr Crabb?

Much has already been written this weekend about Mr Crabb’s humble beginnings growing up in a council flat in a Haverfordwest, grandson of the local baker.

While remarkable for a Conservative politician (and most Labour MPs too these days), let us not fetishize successful plebs... “New pensions secretary was brought up in a council house by a single mother who fled her violent husband” stated the Telegraph on Saturday (19 March).

The fact “many of the houses in that street have now been bought and had small porches, kitchen extensions” built-on is, according to Mr Crabb’s maiden parliamentary speech in 2005, a vindication of “what the Conservative right-to-buy scheme did for hard-working, working-class families”.

Social housing is something to “fall back on”, home ownership should be everyone’s goal, he said.

Elsewhere in his first address on becoming MP for Preseli Pembrokeshire, he praised a Queen’s Speech commitment to cut regulatory burdens on business, like the small firms in his constituency.

Other interesting points of note, expenses incurred by Mr Crabb in carrying out his parliamentary duties during the 2014 to 2015 financial year were £178,817.31, according to the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority.

This includes employing his wife, Beatrice, as part-time diary manager (though presumably that will be bumped up to a higher paid full-time role now).

Mr Crabb’s hefty expenses bill is on top of his combined ministerial (secretary of state for Wales) and parliamentary salary of £134,565, which includes the parliamentary salary of £74,000. All paid for by the taxpayer. (Go to next page for Mr Crabb’s voting record on pensions and tax)

But it is Mr Crabb’s parliamentary record that offers the best indication of what he will do at the DWP now he is in charge.

An overview of his involvement in the business of the Commons suggests avid but invisible participation; he spoke in just eight debates in the last year, well below average among MPs, according to MP monitoring website Theyworkforyou, but he voted in a very much above average 89.55 per cent of votes in this parliament.