Jim O’Neill given Treasury role to ‘make devolution happen’

15 May 15

Jim O’Neill, the leading economist who has called for a major programme of devolution to the UK’s cities to boost economic growth, has been named as a Treasury minister in David Cameron’s government reshuffle.

O’Neill, who chaired the City Growth Commission which has formed the basis of Chancellor George Osborne’s Northern Powerhouse plan to boost the economy of north England through devolution, has been made a peer and will take the post of commercial secretary to the Treasury to deliver the government’s devolution and infrastructure plans.

In its report last year, the commission called for better connectivity in the north of England to boost the agglomeration benefits of the cities in the region, a project O’Neill dubbed ManSheffLeedsPool.

A former chair of Goldman Sachs Asset Management, O’Neill also famously coined the term BRICS to describe major emerging economies
Announcing the appointment yesterday in his speech on the Northern Powerhouse in Manchester, Osborne said that O’Neill would be right in the heart of government, and in the department that historically fought against devolution.

‘We have a brilliant new minister to help make devolution and the Northern Powerhouse happen,’ he said.

In other government appointments confirmed yesterday, Francis Maude former Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude was handed a peerage and named trade minister.

David Prior, the chair of the Care Quality Commission, will also be given a peerage and be appointed a minister at the Department of Health. 

Pensions expert Ros Altmann, who Cameron confirmed in the election campaign would be given a role in government, has been named the Conservative government’s pensions minister, replacing Liberal Democrat Steve Webb following the end of the coalition government. She previously advised the government on policy on older workers during the coalition.

• Read Public Finance’s interview with Jim O’Neill on the City Growth Commission’s plans for devolution here.

  • Judith Ugwumadu

    Judith Ugwumadu joined Public Finance International and Public Finance online as a reporter after stints at Financial Adviser, Global Security Finance and The Sunday Express. Currently, she writes about public finance, public services and economics.

    Follow her on @JudithUgwumadu_

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