Charity president and entrepreneur Alan Mak hopes the reshuffle will boost economic growth and strengthen society
David Cameron's official spokesman said last week's (re)shuffle was designed to "look to the future" and ensure "we have the right ministers in place to deliver the government's programme". The Prime Minister's new team has the potential to deliver not just a stronger economy but also a stronger society. The reshuffle brings in new talent, more energy and bold ideas to tackle Britain’s key challenges: in the short term, energising economic growth, and in the long-term, building an upwardly-mobile Opportunity Society. It puts figures with serious private sector experience into economic ministries like the Treasury and BIS, whilst ensuring social reform is at the heart of the education department, DWP and DLCG. It unambiguously shifts the Government's focus from legislating on reform to delivering on reform, giving the Conservative-Lib Dem coalition renewed focus. It was a positive reshuffle.
At the heart of energising economic growth and boosting the UK's economic competitiveness on the global stage are the eye-catching changes at the Treasury and BIS. Paul Deighton, Chief Executive of LOCOG, organisers of the London 2012 Olympic Games, and former European COO at Goldman Sachs joins the Treasury (and the House of Lords) to ensure major infrastructure projects, necessary for economic growth and social well-being, are delivered as effectively as London2012. Respublica Trustee Simon Lee rightly described Deighton's appointment as being "gold star" quality. Greg Clark comes in as the new City Minister, giving the Square Mile a much needed government champion, whilst former Deutsche Bank senior Managing Director turned MP Sajid Javid becomes Economic Secretary. Javid is also an expert on trade with emerging markets, which he talked about with passion during our trip to this year's Republican National Convention in Tampa. Rising star Matt Hancock and former Duncan Bannatyne business partner Michael Fallon go to BIS to kick-start deregulation and supply-side reforms. A familiar face, Ken Clarke, who oversaw sustained economic growth while addressing the government deficit in the Major government joins the Growth Committee. Lord Green, the former Chairman and CEO of HSBC, retains his key role as joint BIS-Foreign Office Minister for Trade and Investment, overseeing UKTI. The Coalition's deficit-reduction plan has so far ensured Britain has retained its triple-A credit rating, kept interest rates low, and ensured the bond markets retain their confidence in Britain’s ability to pay its debts. This week's Ministerial changes build on that progress, and come on the back of a promising verdict from the World Economic Forum – organiser of the high-profile Davos summit – which ranked Britain 8th in the world in its Global Competitiveness Report. This is up two places from last year and ahead of all but two G8 countries.
Economic recovery is certainly good news for everyone, but as we build a stronger economy, we need to ensure that we build a stronger society too, so that opportunity and prosperity touch even the hardest-to-reach communities in Britain. Education is key to social progress and upward mobility, so the appointment of Liz Truss, another rising star, and campaigner for better childcare for working women, social mobility and higher educational standards is extremely positive. Truss and Orange Booker David Laws should bring more free market principles to solving social problems. I hope they will work with me and Magic Breakfast to tackle child hunger, poverty and educational failure in Britain's toughest communities. Former Treasury Minister Mark Hoban joins DWP to ensure the government's drive to move people from welfare to work retains its momentum, and the Universal Credit is implemented effectively. DWP has led the government's reforming agenda, and with the addition of 2010 intake MP Esther McVey, another strong advocate of social mobility, should ensure that continues. The Department for Communities and Local Government, largely responsible for spearheading the Big Society agenda of localism, decentralisation and civic engagement kept its Secretary, Eric Pickles, in place, whilst popular Minister for Civil Society, Nick Hurd, who I've worked with as part of the City Philanthropy Action Group and the Big Society Awards, keeps his post driving forward the government's belief that charities, churches and communities are often better placed to tackle social problems than Whitehall.
As they draw to a close, the London Olympics didn’t just reaffirm Britain’s place as a global forum for sport. They also cemented our position as a global business hub – the pop-up “British Business Embassy” at Lancaster House hosted 4,000 global business leaders and brokered £14bn worth of deals for UK businesses – and as a nation where 70,000 Games Maker volunteers from all walks of life can bring the Big Society to life in a way that government cannot.
For sure Britain must do even more to build both a stronger economy and a stronger society. Greater infrastructure investment, and new airports to better connect us to each other and the fast-growth economies. Less red tape and lower taxes on the SMEs and entrepreneurs who are our keenest exporters and job-creators. Education reforms that put STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and maths) and modern languages at the heart of a new curriculum to compete to give even the poorest children a chance to succeed. But last week's reshuffle, injecting new energy, ideas and expertise at the heart of government, is a big step in the right direction, and a stronger economy and a stronger society can be this Cabinet's most enduring legacy.