What is a levelling up secretary? Michael Gove’s new cabinet role explained

Michael Gove has been reappointed as Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Secretary. (Picture: James Manning/PA Wire)

Rishi Sunak only officially became UK Prime Minister yesterday (October 25), but he already has a multitude of important decisions to make as the new Tory leader.

One of the first tasks any Prime Minister has to take on is the reshuffle and appointment of his cabinet.

Mr Sunak’s choices for the various cabinet posts have proved controversial as he seeks to reach out to his party’s left and right flanks and calm the economic markets.

One appointment that has proved surprising to some (after his apparent bowing out of frontline politics) is the return of the veteran Tory MP and experienced former minister Michael Gove, who has been once again appointed to the role of levelling up secretary.

But just what does the levelling up secretary do, and what are they in charge of?

Here’s everything you need to know.

What is a levelling up secretary?

The Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities is responsible for the strategic oversight of the department of the same name.

In practice, this means he is responsible for seeing that the government’s agenda is being carried out by the department.

New Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has held his first Cabinet meeting in Downing street. (Picture: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire)

The department’s official government website page describes its brief as follows: ‘Our work includes investing in local areas to drive growth and create jobs, delivering the homes our country needs, supporting our community and faith groups, and overseeing local government, planning and building safety.’

While the department was initially established under Tony Blair as Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (and saw then-MP David Miliband in charge), it was under Prime Minister Boris Johnson that the role was officially christened ‘Levelling Up, Housing and Communities.’

This was done to bring the department more in line with the ‘levelling up’ promises outlined in the 2019 Conservative party manifesto.

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Mr Gove’s new position is a ministerial role, and the Secretary of State will attend the cabinet.

In the list of ministerial ranks, the Secretary of State for Levelling Up is seventh – behind the Secretary of State for Defence.

Who has previously been the levelling up secretary?

In its current guise, recent holders of this role have included The Rt Hon Simon Clarke MP (who held the role under Liz Truss’ short time in office) and The Rt Hon Greg Clark MP (who was in this position after Michael Gove was sacked on July 6).

However, the first minister to take up the role is now once again its current occupant – Mr Gove.

Michael Gove had his first Cabinet meeting under Rishi Sunak today (Picture: NIKLAS HALLE’N/AFP via Getty Images)

Mr Gove has significant experience inside government, having previously held the roles of Secretary of State for Education, Government Chief Whip, Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury, Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice.

Alongside Boris Johnson, he was a senior figure in the Vote Leave campaign during the Brexit referendum. He has also run to be the leader of the Tory party twice.

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