The DWP’s new chief spin doctor used to work for IDS

Iain Duncan Smith in parliament and the DWP logo
Support us and go ad-free

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) announced its new director of communications on 9 October. But she’s not really a ‘new broom’. Because she worked with Conservative politicians for years. She was even a special adviser to former work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith. But that’s not the worst part.

The DWP: a new broom?

Lisa Hunter is the DWP’s new director of comms. A press release said she will:

oversee the communications around… welfare reforms to help millions of people hear about how the government is supporting them into work…

Work and pensions secretary Esther McVey welcomed Hunter:

I’m delighted… [she] is joining DWP as Director of Communications. She brings a wealth of experience from across the public and private sector.

Indeed, Hunter does have a “wealth” of public sector experience; the majority of it being for Conservative politicians.

The Conservatives

As her Linkedin profile shows, Hunter did a politics degree before doing a diploma in broadcast journalism. She had a brief stint as a presenter on a Welsh radio station. But she went on to work for the Conservative Party, and then as a special adviser to two secretaries of state:

Read on...

Support us and go ad-free

Lisa Hunter Linkedin bio

Her job as a special adviser for Duncan Smith is interesting. Hunter was at the DWP when the changes made in the Welfare Reform Act 2012 were being put into place. These include:

  • Paving the way for Universal Credit.
  • Getting rid of the discretionary social fund, also known as crisis loans.
  • Putting in place the benefit cap.
  • The ‘bedroom tax’.

But Hunter is also part of that ‘revolving door’ between government and corporations.


After several years at insurers Lloyds of London, Hunter then worked as a corporate affairs director (lobbyist) for MHP Communications. The firm is a known corporate lobbyist for both energy and health; with former MPs and their advisers going to work for it.

As Private Eye wrote, former secretary of state for energy and climate change Ed Davey agreed to the contentious Hinkley Point C nuclear power station; to be built by EDF. When he lost his seat as an MP, he went to work for MHP; the firm lobbies for EDF. What’s more, as the Morning Star reported, MHP also lobbied for private rail. And several former right-wing mainstream media journalists also work for it.

Nice rhetoric

The Canary asked the DWP for comment. It pointed us to its press release.

Hunter said of her new job:

The work we do in the… [DWP] makes a real difference to millions of people and families, right across the country, and often during their most challenging times…

We play an important role in creating a fairer society and it’s vital we communicate all we do effectively and accurately.

She must have missed the ongoing scandal over Universal Credit, or the numerous benefit cuts. Hunter apparently overlooked the flawed Work Capability Assessment and the closure of the Independent Living Fund. And she seemed to forget the thousands and thousands of people have died on the DWP’s watch. She clearly hasn’t read the five international reports that slammed governments and the DWP.

Spin, spin, sugar

So, the DWP has a new director of comms. One who went from doing PR for the Conservative Party to advising Duncan Smith on welfare. She then went to lobby for private companies. And now she is back at the DWP to sell its policies to the public.

But just to complete this story of revolving doors, Hunter’s old firm MHP also lobbies for ATOS; a firm mired in scandal over its role in welfare assessments. It’s certainly a case of not what you know, but who you know, in the world of the DWP.

Get Involved!

Join The Canary so we can keep holding the powerful to account.

Featured image via Dickorydock – YouTube and UK government – Wikimedia 

Support us and go ad-free

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us

Comments are closed