From education to employment

Rishi Sunak announced as new Prime Minister!

Rishi Sunak is prime minster

The Great Reshuffle continues within the Government as Rishi Sunak is announced as Prime Minister!

Sunak will take over from Liz Truss in a time of great economic uncertainty. This comes after Kwasi Kwarteng’s mini-budget, which devastated the economy and created chaos. This failed attempt at the mini-budget ultimately led to his sacking.

Rishi was up against Penny Mordaunt in the leadership race. However, Mordaunt withdrew from the race, leaving just Sunak! Here is her statement:

Rishi is expected to address MPs at 2:30pm, 24th October. However, Sunak was only officially PM from this morning (25th October). He then spoke for the first time as PM on the steps of Downing Street! His speech can be found below.

Rishi Sunak’s Speech

Good morning,

I have just been to Buckingham Palace and accepted His Majesty The King’s invitation to form a government in his name.

It is only right to explain why I am standing here as your new Prime Minister.

Right now our country is facing a profound economic crisis. 

The aftermath of Covid still lingers. 

Putin’s war in Ukraine has destabilised energy markets and supply chains the world over.

I want to pay tribute to my predecessor Liz Truss, she was not wrong to want to improve growth in this country, it is a noble aim. 

And I admired her restlessness to create change.

But some mistakes were made. 

Not borne of ill will or bad intentions. Quite the opposite, in fact. But mistakes nonetheless. 

And I have been elected as leader of my party, and your Prime Minister, in part, to fix them.

And that work begins immediately.

I will place economic stability and confidence at the heart of this government’s agenda. 

This will mean difficult decisions to come.

But you saw me during Covid, doing everything I could, to protect people and businesses, with schemes like furlough.

There are always limits, more so now than ever, but I promise you this

I will bring that same compassion to the challenges we face today.

The government I lead will not leave the next generation, your children and grandchildren, with a debt to settle that we were too weak to pay ourselves. 

I will unite our country, not with words, but with action. 

I will work day in and day out to deliver for you.

This government will have integrity, professionalism and accountability at every level.

Trust is earned. And I will earn yours.

I will always be grateful to Boris Johnson for his incredible achievements as Prime Minister, and I treasure his warmth and generosity of spirit.

And I know he would agree that the mandate my party earned in 2019 is not the sole property of any one individual, it is a mandate that belongs to and unites all of us.

And the heart of that mandate is our manifesto.

I will deliver on its promise.

  • A stronger NHS.
  • Better schools.
  • Safer streets.
  • Control of our borders.
  • Protecting our environment.
  • Supporting our armed forces.
  • Levelling up and building an economy that embraces the opportunities of Brexit, where businesses invest, innovate, and create jobs.

I understand how difficult this moment is.

After the billions of pounds it cost us to combat Covid, after all the dislocation that caused in the midst of a terrible war that must be seen successfully to its conclusions I fully appreciate how hard things are.

And I understand too that I have work to do to restore trust after all that has happened.

All I can say is that I am not daunted. I know the high office I have accepted and I hope to live up to its demands.

But when the opportunity to serve comes along, you cannot question the moment, only your willingness.

So I stand here before you ready to lead our country into the future. 

To put your needs above politics.

To reach out and build a government that represents the very best traditions of my party.

Together we can achieve incredible things.

We will create a future worthy of the sacrifices so many have made and fill tomorrow, and everyday thereafter with hope.

Thank you.

Sector Response to Speech

Reacting to Rishi Sunak’s first Downing Street speech, a CSJ spokesperson said:

“That was a serious speech for serious times. In his first statement as Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak outlined his commitment to the winning pledges of the 2019 manifesto: better schools and public services, safer streets, controlling immigration and levelling up our regions. The Centre for Social Justice welcomes the Prime Minister’s decision to revert back to the issues concerning thousands of people in this nation who for decades found themselves left behind.

But, as he acknowledged, there are ‘profound economic challenges’ ahead, with high energy prices, soaring inflation and the looming threat of recession. Through the turbulence to come, we call upon the Prime Minister to ensure the poorest and most vulnerable in society are always protected, and that difficult decisions are made with compassion for those with the very least.

Still, the Prime Minister must go further. People are potential to be unlocked, not problems to be solved, yet the legacy of the pandemic represents a stranglehold on the potential of too many in 2022. Thousands of children are yet to return to school. Record numbers are blighted by addiction to drugs or alcohol. Anti-social behaviour wrecks the health of our communities and we emerge from the pandemic as a world leader in family breakdown. The Prime Minister’s legacy will be defined by his ability to carry out the social repair our country desperately needs as much as his role stabilising the economy. 

We look forward to working with the Prime Minister and his team as we continue our mission to put social justice at the heart of British politics. There’s no time to lose.”

Background on Rishi Sunak

Rishi Sunak was previously appointed Chancellor of the Exchequer from 13 February 2020 until 5 July 2022, where Nadhim Zahawi was then appointed.

He was also previously:

  • Chief Secretary to the Treasury from 24 July 2019 until 13 February 2020
  • Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government from 9 January 2018 until 24 July 2019.


Rishi went to Winchester College. He then studied Politics, Philosophy and Economics at Oxford University. He was also a Fulbright Scholar at Stanford University (USA) where he studied for his MBA.

Political career

Rishi was elected Conservative MP for Richmond (Yorks) in May 2015. He served as a Parliamentary Private Secretary at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) from June 2017 until his ministerial appointment.

Career before politics

Rishi spent his professional career in business and finance, working internationally. He co-founded an investment firm working with companies in multiple geographies.

Sector Response

Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said:

“We welcome Rishi Sunak to the role of Prime Minister and wish him every success at this difficult time for our country.

“With his Chancellor, he must now make some important decisions over the country’s finances. We implore him to remember the importance of education as an investment not only in the life chances of children and young people, but in the economic future of the country too, and to ensure that schools and colleges have the funding they need.

“Indeed, it was a General Election manifesto commitment of the Conservative Party in 2019 to ‘give the public services the resources they need, supporting our hospitals, our schools and our police’.

“However, with inflationary pressures soaring and in the absence of any additional government funding, the Institute for Fiscal Studies estimates that school funding per pupil by the end of this parliament in 2024/25 will still be 3% below 2010 in real-terms, while college funding will be 11% lower, and school sixth form funding 27% lower.

“On the current trajectory, it is inevitable that schools and colleges will have to reduce the number of teachers and support staff they employ, and that this will mean larger class sizes, cuts to the curriculum and less individualised support for students who need extra help.

“Mr Sunak must demonstrate that he supports the state education system by funding it properly.”

Dr Mary Bousted, Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union, said: 

“We welcome Rishi Sunak to the role of Prime Minister.

“If the Conservative party is now seeking a period of stability and rebuilding, then those watchwords should not just apply to the party but the nation as a whole. The country and its priorities have been rather forgotten during several months of interminable navel-gazing and dangerous economic experiments.

“Let us begin with public sector pay. On Friday, the National Education Union will launch the largest formal ballot of the education profession in a generation. 300,000 members will be asked if they are willing to strike over the real terms pay cut that was signed off by Rishi Sunak when Chancellor earlier this year. Teachers have seen a 20% loss in pay since 2010 and 27% for support staff over the same period. The recruitment and retention crisis in the profession has endured for almost as long and shows no sign of improving. These issues need to be addressed by the incoming leader.

“Funding is also critical. Education unions came together at the weekend in an open letter to Conservative MPs, warning them of the danger point schools and colleges have now reached. The IFS predicts schools will see a £2bn shortfall by 2024, with school spending per pupil some 3% lower than in 2010 in real terms. Schools and colleges in the most disadvantaged communities are likely to be hardest hit by this new wave of impossible spending decisions. Serious capital investment in the repair of school buildings has also been deferred for too long.

“These are the challenges which face the nation. The incoming Prime Minister needs to look with fresh eyes at the education sector and recognise the strains it has been under for far too long. This requires policy and funding shifts that will benefit schools, staff, parents and pupils alike. It is surely in everyone’s interests to bring school funding into the 2020s and reward teachers and support staff with the real-terms above inflation pay rise they have deserved for far too long.”

Nick Molho, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group said:

“The new Prime Minister takes office at a time when the UK economy is struggling to attract investment and dealing with significant challenges around the cost of living, energy security and regional inequalities. Accelerating the UK’s transition towards net zero emissions and restoring nature are central solutions to tackling these challenges. [1] Greater investment in energy efficiency, renewable energy, clean transport and the decarbonisation of heavy industry can cut energy costs for households and businesses, reduce the UK’s dependence on volatile fossil fuel prices, deliver significant job creation across all parts of the country and support key export opportunities for the UK economy.”

Nick Molho added:

“Businesses are clear that the net zero transition presents one of the largest investment opportunities of this decade, and they see well-designed environmental regulation as a crucial driver in creating jobs and increasing the UK’s long-term resilience. We call on the new Prime Minister to throw his full weight behind the net zero transition and rapidly enact the policies that will help accelerate the low carbon investment that the UK economy urgently needs.”   

Responding to confirmation that new Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is to keep Chancellor Jeremy Hunt in post, Iain Porter, Senior Policy Adviser for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation said: 

“Families on low incomes desperately need stability and certainty, as they try to afford the essentials, pay their rent, and keep food on the table. Rishi Sunak personally pledged to go ahead with the usual uprating of benefits in line with inflation, and Chancellor Jeremy Hunt promised last week that he would take action to protect the most vulnerable and to act with compassion. 

“The new government must show it is as serious about protecting its citizens from harm as well as it is about calming the markets. It can do this by moving quickly to take away a huge source of anxiety for millions and confirming that benefits will be uprated as soon as possible in line with September’s inflation rate of 10.1% – a position the public agree with.

“Previous decisions not to go ahead with the normal uprating of benefits, cutting the value of support, mean that current rates are leaving households unable to afford the bare essentials. This inadequate safety net has caused rising debt, foodbank use and homelessness even before this crisis. Even if benefits are uprated in line with inflation, the usual bare minimum the government can do, rates of support will still be in the lowest levels we’ve seen in decades.  

“The cost of living crisis continues to intensify and the review on help with energy bills will be an important part of ensuring that support is sufficient and effectively targeted at those who need it. People on the lowest incomes will need to know that whatever is announced in the upcoming fiscal statement, this is a government which has listened and will protect the worst off from the frightening rises in the cost of living.”

Neil Carberry, REC CEO said:

All of us at the REC want to congratulate Rishi Sunak on his election as leader of the Conservative Party and our new Prime Minister. The role of our workforce in driving growth and productivity must be at the heart of policy making, and REC members stand ready to help the government deliver on that. From the effects of the pandemic to an ageing population, the shape of our workforce is changing, and firms are facing labour and skills shortages that impede growth.  

“The PM has much to do to steer our economy to stability and a path to growth. The recruitment and staffing industry can do lots to help build the skilled workforce the UK will need for the years to come. That is a pre-requisite for boosting growth and enhancing productivity. The labour market has remained strong amid economic uncertainty. For this to continue, we hope the Prime Minister and the Chancellor work to create the right regulatory context, skills support, immigration policy, and welfare-to-work reform.

“At the expected Fiscal Statement next week, we hope to see some quick wins to drive growth, like reforming the apprenticeship levy, ring fenced funding for modular training courses, and clarity on allowing more people to come from abroad to help with worker shortages. On regulation, the government should conduct a wholesale review of the application of the off payroll working rules, which should include long overdue umbrella company regulation and the creation of a Single Enforcement Body. These pragmatic steps would enhance business investment and keep the labour market on a path to supporting growth plans. We look forward to working with the new Prime Minister and his Cabinet at this critical time.”

On the Cabinet Reshuffle, Dr Joe Marshall, Chief Executive of the NCUB said:

“ I congratulate Grant Shapps on his appointment as Business Secretary. He is inheriting an important portfolio, cutting across energy, business enterprise, industrial sponsorship and scientific research.

“Some will be disappointed to see that the ministerial posts with specific responsibilities for science and universities do not appear to have been elevated to Cabinet appointments.

“However, Grant Shapps has an opportunity to champion science, research and innovation at the highest level of government as important decisions are made over the coming days and weeks. A critical first step will be recommitting to the public spending pledges made at last year’s Spending Review to reach £20bn by 2024-25 and £22bn over the next two years. This commitment recognises that the UK’s world class universities and business innovation will be essential in driving up UK productivity and achieving long term economic growth.”

Tom Bewick, chief executive of the Federation of Awarding Bodies, has written an exclusive article for FE News:

Jack Parsons has also written on Rishi becoming PM:

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