PwC infiltrates Treasury team
Leaving aside the rivalries of the two governing parties, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) has been a big winner in the ministerial prize-giving, with two of its former employees appointed to the Treasury team. Vince Cable had to make do with business secretary.
Fareham MP Mark Hoban, who enjoys the biggest majority of the accountant-MPs elected on 6 May, has been appointed Financial Secretary to the Treasury team led by Chancellor George Osborne and Liberal Democrat Chief Secretary David Laws. Hoban, a former PwC senior manager, lived up to expectations by moving into the post he had shadowed while in opposition. The Treasury's ministerial profile page indicates that Hoban will be responsible for financial services policy including initiatives on banking and financial services reform and regulation, financial stability, city competitiveness and personal savings and pensions policy.
Another PwC alumnus is Putney MP Justine Greening, who was appointed Economic Secretary to the Treasury. Her responsbilities will include: environmental issues and taxes; tax credits and child poverty; charities and the voluntary sector; excise duties and gambling, including excise fraud and enforcement; stamp duty land tax; and the EU Budget. She will also work with Exchequer Secretary David Gauke on the Finance Bill.
Greening had been a shadow Treasury minister but switched to Communities and Local Government in January 2009 and acted as the opposition’s spokesman on London in the run-up to the election. Identified as one of Labour's top 10 targets, she boosted her 2005 majority of just 1,723 to 10,053 in 2010.
Since its formation PwC has been prominent in political spheres - not because of the sheer number of accountants it trains, but also for a public service ethos that has seen its partners take prominent roles within the ICAEW and other professional bodies. The 2010 general election campaign was notable in for number of candidates who had passed through PwC’s ranks – at least four of whom made it to the commons: Hoban, Greening, Teresa Pearce (Lab, Erith & Thamesmead); and Stephen Williams (Lib Dem, Bristol West).
The profession’s only other representative to land a ministerial position was Nick Gibb (ex-KPMG), the MP for Bognor Regis who was appointed minister for skills, a position he shadowed since May 2005.
While the Liberal Democrats gained more ministerial seats than might be expected by their number of MPs, there was no place on the Treasury team for their economic figurehead Vince Cable. Instead the Liberal Democrats' former shadow chancellor will lead the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills, formerly run by Lord Mandelson.
Assisting Cable will be Tory minister of state for business and enterprise Mark Prisk, who came to prominence during the election campaign after confirming the Conservatives' pledge to review small company taxation and IR35. A chartered surveyor by training, Prisk's appointment was welcomed by Susie Hughes, editor of the contractors' website Shout99.
"For the past 10 years, the official standpoint was that anybody setting up a company was doing so to create a vehicle to avoid tax. Mark Prisk used to be a freelancer himself and is used to speaking out on their behalf," she said.