Rishi Sunak has been accused of choosing to “fritter away” £60m of taxpayer’s money on his reshuffle.
On Tuesday the prime minister conducted a shake-up of the Whitehall machine, creating four new government departments.
A new energy security and net zero department will be led by Grant Shapps.
Kemi Badenoch, who was international trade secretary, will now run the joint department for business and trade.
Michelle Donelan has been promoted from culture secretary to the new department for science, innovation and technology.
And former housing minister Lucy Frazer joins the cabinet, replacing Donelan at the department for culture, media and sport — which has been shorn of its responsibility for digital technology.
Greg Hands, a close ally of Sunak, has been appointed Conservative Party chairman, replacing Nadhim Zahawi who was sacked over his tax affairs.
Downing Street said that the creation of new departments would “ensure the right skills and teams are focused on the prime minister’s five promises”
But the Lib Dems said the move would cost £60m. The party said this was based on analysis by the Institute for Government (IfG) think-tank, which suggested setting up a new department cost £15m.
Christine Jardine, the Lib Dem Cabinet Office spokesperson said the “rudderless reshuffle” was proof that Sunak was “weaker by the day”.
“This reshuffle will cost the public millions while failing to change the trajectory of this government in crisis,” she said.
“Rather than fritter away tens of millions of taxpayers’ cash on costly vanity projects, Sunak should spend the money where it’s most needed. This cash could fund 25 million free school meals.”
No.10 said it did not recognise the figure suggested by the Lib Dems. “It’s worth stressing obviously the teams are already in place,” the prime minister’s spokesperson said.
“This is about bringing together teams under the priorities of the prime minister. So we wouldn’t expect there to be significant additional costs to this.”