26 September 2023

UNITED KINGDOM: Official’s sacking ‘act of weakness’

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The row over the sacking of Permanent Secretary of the United Kingdom Treasury, Sir Tom Scholar on the second day of the administration of new Prime Minister, Liz Truss has escalated with a leading unionist called it “an act of weakness”.

Ms Truss, a former Minister for the Treasury, accused her old Department of promoting “abacus economics”, saying a greater focus was required on promoting economic growth.

However, General Secretary of the FDA union, which represents senior Public Servants, Dave Penman said Sir Tom’s sacking “ultimately shows a weakness in Government”.

“It is an extraordinary act — and one that has ramifications not just for the relationship with the Civil Service, but for the fundamental principles that underpin a permanent and impartial Civil Service,” Mr Penman (pictured) said.

“I had hoped that when Ms Truss became Prime Minister her focus would shift to governing rather than just winning a vote among a not very typical electorate.”

Instead, the long-serving Permanent Secretary of the Treasury was sacked with immediate effect.

“Sir Tom has vast experience, not least in dealing with major financial crises,” Mr Penman said.

“He had been at the Treasury in 2007 during the banking collapse, and during COVID and the — until now — unprecedented financial support delivered via the furlough scheme,” he said.

“Just, you would have thought, the sort of experience needed given the cost-of-living crisis the country now faces.”

Mr Penman said the fact that Sir Tom had been sacked so early in the term of this Government, before a new Chancellor of the Exchequer even had a chance to build a relationship, “says something about the approach of this new Truss administration”.

London, 15 September 2022

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