Daily Archives: December 15, 2010

Jim Pickard

The announcement has just gone out about the business leaders who will now sit on Whitehall boards. Lord Browne, former head of BP, was responsible for reeling in several big names including Andrew Witty of GlaxoSmithKline, Barbara Stocking of Oxfam and Sam Laidlaw of Centrica. Curiously there are gaps in the DWP and Defence where no appropriate candidate could be found.

A full list of appointed Non-Executive Board Members isRead more

Jim Pickard

Eric Pickles has claimed that councils can make huge savings – enough to counteract the impact of imminent cuts – by administrative changes such as cutting pay and merging departments.

Indeed there are numerous examples of council waste or extravagent spending. BBC London is reporting today that Newham Council (now laying off dozens of staff) spent £111m on buying and refurbishing its head office. Read more

Jim Pickard

The National Audit Office has just published a far from positive report about MPs’ expenses for 2009/10. The Whitehall spending watchdog examined £98.1 million on the reimbursement of costs incurred by members during the period.

It found there was: Read more

Jim Pickard

As I had predicted, the coalition yesterday lost a minor vote on the chief coroner but won an easy victory over tuition fees. I watched the debate from the press gallery in the Lords, which was more packed than usual.

There were some robust defences of the policy from coalition peers, including Lord (Paddy) Ashdown, who argued: “We do not complain when young people have to take out a mortgage debt of £150,000 or £200,000 to buy their house. This is not like a credit card debt; it is much more like a mortgage.” Read more

Jim Pickard

My colleague Fiona Harvey revealed in October that plans for a green investment bank could be watered down under pressure from the Treasury.

A commission set up by George Osborne to look at the issue – led by Bob Wigley, the former European head of Merrill Lynch – had called for the bank to have powers to raise finance from the private sector, for instance by issuing bonds, green Isas, raising loans and other measures. But this was opposed by Treasury officials, according to Fiona:

They would prefer the bank to operate as a simpler fund, dispensing grants and loans in conjunction with the private sector but without the powers to generate its own self-sustaining financing mechanisms.

And in today’s Guardian Chris Huhne confirms that the bank will start life in the more limited form.

 Read more

Jim Pickard

One Labour figure suggested my Monday blog on Ed Miliband was rather “snippy”* for suggesting that Ed Miliband was not doing brilliantly in the polls. No doubt he will not take kindly to me pointing out that Ipsos Mori has more bad news this morning.

The poll for the Guardian suggests that: Read more