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Economic Justice

High Pay Centre criticises ‘corporate colonisation’ of Government

The increasing number of Ministers and senior civil servants recruited from the private sector has strengthened the grip of big business over UK Government policy, according to a new report published today by the High Pay Centre think-tank.


The report ‘The Revolving Door and the corporate colonisation of UK politics’ warns against the ‘corporate colonisation’ of Government, citing a number of different ways in which figures from business have entered the Government, including:


  • Business leaders appointed to Ministerial office via the House of Lords, such as former HSBC CEO Lord Green and former Goldman Sachs banker and Chief Executive of the London Olympics Organising Committee, Lord Deighton
  • Private sector appointments to the civil service, with 30% of current senior civil servants recruited in this way
  • The extensive use of private sector consultants at a cost of around £800m according to the Public Accounts Committee
  • Non-executive ‘departmental boards’ of Government departments, chaired by leading industry figures, such as Lord Browne, former CEO of BP and Chair of the Cabinet Office, or Sam Laidlaw, outgoing CEO of Centrica (parent company of British Gas) and Chair of the Department for Transport.


The report also highlights the 1,000 business appointments taken up by outgoing Ministers and civil servants between 2000 and 2014 and their potential to use their knowledge of Government to exert undue influence on behalf of their new employers.


High Pay Centre Deborah Hargreaves said: It is useful for politicians and Government officials to be able to draw on experience of working in the private sector. At the same time, a balance has to be struck. Private companies exist to make money, first and foremost. They have different values to the public service ethic we expect of Ministers and civil servants.


The interests of big business and the interests of society are already too easily confused in public debate. They are not synonymous, but a Government dominated by former business leaders risks governing as if they are.


It is only natural that those with long professional careers working to maximise the profits of major corporations will favour policies that help big business  when in Government, even at the expense of employee welfare or the environment, for example.


The High Pay Centre is an independent think-tank researching pay at the top of the income distribution.  Find out more .