Business leaders given government advisory roles

Image caption,
Andrew Witty will become a non-executive board member at the Business Department.

A number of leading business figures are being given advisory roles within Whitehall with the aim of helping the government operate more efficiently.

They include Andrew Witty, chief executive of GlaxoSmithKline; Sara Weller, boss of Argos; and Sam Laidlaw, head of Centrica.

In total, 31 private, public and not-for-profit sector leaders are being appointed to departmental boards.

As non-executive directors they will scrutinise how departments are run.

Of the 31 appointees, 13 - or 42% - are women.

'Business-like ethos'

Francis Maude, Minister for the Cabinet Office, said the efficiency measures so far put in place by the coalition government had already saved more than £1bn.

He added: "Today's names include business heavyweights with huge experience of financial management and improving operational performance, and they will play a key role in helping departments rise to the challenge and deliver further savings.

"Previously we have paid millions of pounds to consultants for this kind of advice."

The appointees will be offered £15,000 a year, with a further £5,000 for those who take the lead non-executive role on each departmental board.

However, the Cabinet Office said each could choose to waive all or part of their fee.

Former BP boss Lord Browne, who was appointed by the government back in June to help find the non-executive directors, will take the lead non-executive position in the Cabinet Office, and continue in the same role for the overall government.

The first board meetings are expected to take place in January, and additional non-executive directors will be appointed in the new year.

Lord Browne said: "By appointing world-class leaders from outside government to Whitehall's departmental boards, we have taken an important step forward in realising the government's reform agenda.

"Drawing on their experience, knowledge and expertise, the non-executive board members will play a principal role in bringing a more business-like ethos to the very heart of government."

Other business leaders who will take up non-executive roles in the government include investment banker David Verey, former Tate & Lyle boss Iain Ferguson, and Val Gooding, former head of Bupa.

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