Minister for two days: The eye-watering cost of Britain’s cabinet merry-go-round
The recent turmoil in the Conservative party has seen numerous records broken.
Liz Truss made history as the UK’s shortest serving prime minister, clinging on for 49 days.
Grant Shapps holds the title of the briefest home secretary after holding the office for just less than a week in October after the sacking of Suella Braverman.
These pale in comparison to the dubious achievement of Michelle Donelan, who managed 36 hours as education secretary under Boris Johnson, before resigning as his leadership collapsed.
As well as the headache for government HR departments, the ministerial churn has a significant cost to the taxpayer.
Ministers are entitled to a quarter of their salary in severance pay when they leave the job.
For a cabinet minister, this means a payout of £16,876.25 – a quarter of their £67,505 annual salary.
Prime ministers receive £18,860 – a quarter of their £75,440 salary.
This puts the cost of cabinet reshuffles in 2022 alone at between £400,000 and £500,000, according Yahoo News UK analysis of ministerial records.
This does not include payouts to junior ministers, who are also entitled to severance pay at a lower rate.
Read more: Liz Truss ministers in role for just weeks urged to reject £17k redundancy payouts
Ministers are not eligible for the payment if they are hired back into government within three weeks.
Some have said they do not plan to accept from the cash. After her two-day stint running the country's education system, Donelan said would reject her severance money.
Both Truss and Boris Johnson received a £19,000 payout in 2022 after being ousted from Downing Street.
New prime minister Rishi Sunak, who has personal wealth of hundreds of millions of pounds, was entitled to the £17,000 severance package earlier in the year when he was fired by Truss.
Kwasi Kwarteng, who was ousted as chancellor after his disastrous mini budget led to economic chaos, is also in line for £17,000.
Read more: Starmer tells Truss to turn down £115,000 allowance for former prime ministers
This week, Sunak rehired five ministers who have received redundancy payouts in the last year: Dominic Raab, Michael Gove, Steve Barclay, Grant Shapps and Johnny Mercer.
Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner called the move a "reward for failure".
"If they had a shred of decency, they would refuse these payments," she said.
"Why should the British public have to pick up the bill for the ministerial merry-go-round caused by the Tories’ revolving door of chaos?"
The rise of the ministerial merry-go-round
The rapid turnover of ministers is a new phenomenon, particularly when it comes to the most senior offices of state.
In the 18 years of Conservatives rule between 1979 and 1997 the UK had five chancellors, serving an average of 3.6 years each.
In just three years since Boris Johnson took power in 2019 there have been another five chancellors, serving for an average of eight months each.
For the three most senior ministerial offices – chancellor, home secretary and foreign secretary – the average number of days served by each incumbent has collapsed since Theresa May became PM.
David Cameron had one chancellor, George Osborne, who was in office for 2,254 days. Theresa May also had one chancellor, Philip Hammond, who was in office for 1,106 days.
Boris Johnson had three chancellors, who served 380 days on average. Truss managed to get through two during her 49 days in office, meaning they served 26 days on average under her rule.
The department of education has been one of the worst hit by the churn, with nine secretaries of state since 2010, and six since 2019.
According to a report by the Institute for Government (IfG) think tank, this constant turnover "undermines good government".
"It means ministers lack the expertise they need to do their jobs effectively and are unable to see policies through to results," the IfG researchers said.
"It means parliament finds it difficult to hold ministers to account for the outcomes of their decisions.
"And it means departments suffer constant changes in direction, crippling efforts at long-term reform and creating confusion and waste."
After he left the government in 2019, former Tory minister Rory Stewart describes his and his colleagues' tenures as "absurdly short" in a column for the Observer newspaper.
"I held five ministerial jobs in four years," he said.
"Just as I was completing my 25-year environment plan, I was made a Middle East minister.
"Just as I was trying to change our aid policy in Syria, I was made the Africa minister.
"Just as I was finishing my Africa strategy, I was moved to prisons. I promised to reduce violence in prisons in 12 months, and violence was just beginning to come down – when I was made secretary of state for international development.
"How can this be a serious way to run a country?"
As he took office, Sunak attempted to distance himself from the chaos of the previous Conservative administrations, promising to deliver “integrity, professionalism and accountability at every level”.
Watch: Sunak's cabinet reshuffle – Braverman and Raab return and Hunt stays on
This, argues the IfG, must include a stop to constant reshuffling of ministers.
"The steps required to address it are simple," the think tank researchers put it.
"Establishing clear expectations about longer tenures, making reshuffles less frequent and planning successions more carefully would all help prime ministers – with whom the decision on ministerial appointments ultimately rests – to manage their team more effectively."
All dates correct to 28 October 2022.