Tom Scholar, permanent secretary to the Treasury, sacked by Liz Truss | Economy


Liz Truss has underlined her apparent intention to tear up recent economic policies by removing Tom Scholar as the Treasury’s top official, despite warnings that his experience could prove vital this winter.

Before becoming prime minister, Truss repeatedly railed against what she called “Treasury orthodoxy,” including predictions that her plan for deep, unfunded tax cuts could drive up inflation and raise interest rates.

It is understood Scholar, who worked closely with David Cameron and Gordon Brown before taking over as Treasury head in 2016, was told he would be leaving on Tuesday after Kwasi Kwarteng was appointed chancellor of Truss.

The news was confirmed Thursday by a brief announcement from the Treasury. He said: “The Chancellor has instructed the Cabinet Secretary to begin the process of recruiting a new Permanent Secretary to the Treasury to succeed Tom Scholar.”

Beth Russell, chief executive of tax and social protection, and Cat Little, chief executive of public spending, will lead the department as acting permanent secretaries in the interim.

Scholar said Kwarteng decided it was time for “new leadership”. He wished the department “all the best for the times to come”, adding that he would “encourage from the sidelines”.

It seems likely that Kwarteng and Truss will seek a senior official more receptive to their plan to try to increase economic growth by aggressively cutting taxes, with the intention that higher growth will then swell government coffers.

This sparked skepticism among economists, with the perception that a similar view might be shared by Treasury officials.

Scholar’s departure will leave Whitehall without a very experienced voice who had worked with Cameron as a senior adviser on the European Union.

When he took office at the Treasury, he replaced Nicholas Macpherson, who had spent 11 years in that post, under three chancellors.

In a tweet, Macpherson called Scholar “the best civil servant of his generation”, adding, “To fire him makes no sense. His experience would have been invaluable in the months ahead as government policy exerts massive upward pressure on the cost of financing. As Gordon Brown used to say, “They don’t think.”

— Nick Macpherson (@nickmacpherson2) September 8, 2022n","url":"","id":"1567907661584236545","hasMedia":false,"role":"inline","isThirdPartyTracking":false,"source":"Twitter","elementId":"e5bc391c-150b-445c-90b2-e33fb64171c9"}}'>

Tom Scholar is the best civil servant of his generation. Turning it around makes no sense. His experience would have been invaluable in the coming months as government policy puts massive upward pressure on the cost of finance. As Gordon Brown used to say “they don’t think”.

—Nick Macpherson (@nickmacpherson2) September 8, 2022

Kwarteng would have been Scholar’s sixth chancellor: he worked briefly with George Osborne, then Philip Hammond, Sajid Javid, Rishi Sunak, and then, very briefly, Nadhim Zahawi.

The son of Sir Michael Scholar, the former permanent secretary of Whitehall, Scholar was among a group of Treasury officials whose careers were nurtured in their thirties by Brown when he was Chancellor and then Prime Minister.

He served as Brown’s principal private secretary before moving to Washington as the UK’s representative to the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. He then worked as chief of staff for Brown, and returned to a senior position at the Treasury at the height of the banking crisis.

In 2013 Scholar led a task force of senior British officials sent to Cyprus to advise the stricken island on how to handle its financial crisis.


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