THE bill for the Prime Minister’s bid to boost his flagging government with a major Whitehall shake-up could reach more than £100million, experts have told The National. 

And the decision of Rishi Sunak to appoint an MP notorious for his controversial comments on food banks to a key Tory party role is “mind-boggling”, the SNP’s Westminster leader has said.

Tory MP Lee Anderson - who earned the nickname "30p Lee" after questioning if there was a need for food banks as people can eat on that daily sum – has been named as deputy chair of his party.

The Prime Minister also announced the creation of four new departments as he unveiled a reshuffle which included bringing Lucy Frazer, who once joked about Scots being sent as “slaves to the colonies”, into Cabinet for the first time.

READ MORE: Rishi Sunak creates new Government departments: Recap

The Tory MP for South East Cambridgeshire, who apologised after sparking a backlash over comment in her maiden speech to the Commons, will lead a reformed Culture, Media and Sport Department.

Veteran trade minister Greg Hands has taken over as Tory party chairman and minister without portfolio from Nadhim Zahawi, who was sacked after a “serious breach” of the ministerial code.

Kemi Badenoch was moved from international trade secretary to become the new Business Secretary, while Grant Shapps was appointed Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero in a newly-formed department.

Scottish Tory MP Andrew Bowie has also joined the Energy and Net Zero Department as parliamentary under secretary of state.

SNP Westminster leader Stephen Flynn told The National: "I think Rishi Sunak is rearranging the deck chairs on a Titanic here. And if he's putting Lee Anderson at the helm then it's going down quicker than probably even he anticipated.

“The big one that's sticking out at me is obviously Lee Anderson being in that position is mind boggling.

The National: Tory MP Lee AndersonTory MP Lee Anderson (Image: Newsquest)

“[Sunak is] clearly trying to appeal to a certain group of folks on the Tory backbenchers who hold a significant amount of sway over him because they support Boris Johnson.

“He's basically giving Lee Anderson that position to save his own skin in many respects with that group of folk, that cohort of folk whose politics and views are fairly dangerous, in my view - giving them far too much credence.”

The Whitehall shake-up means the business, trade and culture departments will be restructured into four different ministries.

In addition to the energy department led by Shapps, there will be a new Department for Science, Innovation and Technology led by Michelle Donelan.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, which will be led by Frazer, loses the digital remit to become just the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

Badenoch will lead the newly created Department for Business and Trade.

Sunak claimed his shake-up of Whitehall, including the creation of four new departments, will “focus teams on the issues that will build a better future for our children and grandchildren”.

The Institute for Government (IfG) told The National that while the exact size of the departments was yet unknown, it was possible the costs of the shake-up could reach between £10million and £30million for each one.

READ MORE: Rishi Sunak makes Scots slaves joke MP Lucy Frazer Culture Secretary

The reforms appeared to be a closely guarded secret which reportedly blindsided the departments involved – and sparked criticism over the costs involved.

Asked if the four new departments were worth the money, Flynn added: “I think we are in the dying embers of a failing Conservative regime and they will throw whatever they possibly can into the mix to save themselves.

“But it's been too late for them in Scotland for a long, long time now, and it looks like it's going to be too late for them elsewhere as well."

Tim Durrant, associate director of the IfG think-tank, said: “The Prime Minister has presumably made these changes to show that the government is structured to focus on his priorities: dealing with the energy crisis, supporting trade and building the UK’s science and technology sectors.

“But departmental reorganisations are always disruptive and given how close we are to an election, there is a risk that the departments focus on sorting out the restructure and are not able to focus on their new responsibilities in time to make a real difference.”

Downing Street downplayed questions about how expensive the reshuffle and reorganisation of Whitehall departments might be.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman, asked about costs, said details would be set out in the normal way.

“It’s worth stressing obviously the teams are already in place,” he 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.”

Asked about claims that departments had been blindsided by the moves, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman also said: “Number 10 and the Cabinet Office have been working on this, as you’d expect.

“It’s not unusual when it comes to changes like this to be developed from the centre.”