Dame Shirley Pearce DBE Joins The Committee On Standards In Public Life

Dame Shirley Pearce DBE has been appointed as a member of the independent Committee on Standards in Public Life

Dame Shirley Pearce DBE

Dame Shirley Pearce DBE

The Prime Minister has appointed Dame Shirley Pearce as a member of the Committee on Standards in Public Life following an open competition.

Shirley has held senior executive and non-executive roles in higher education, health and policing. She is currently Chair of Governors of the London School of Economics and Political Science, a member of the Higher Education Quality Assurance Panel for the Ministry of Education in Singapore and a Trustee for the Royal Anniversary Trust.

In 2013 Shirley was appointed by the Home Secretary as the inaugural Chair of the College of Policing (the first professional body for policing) where she oversaw the introduction of the first Code of Ethics for policing based on the Nolan Principles. She was also a Board member of the Higher Education Funding Council for England, the Healthcare Commission and Health Education England.

She was Vice Chancellor of Loughborough University from 2006 – 2012, where she delivered a new strategy for the university which saw a significant increase in turnover, closer working with industry partners and research success in the Research Excellence Framework alongside a top rated student experience.

Earlier in her academic career she held appointments at University College London (UCL) and the University of East Anglia (UEA) where she established a new medical school with an innovative curriculum and a focus on primary care and inter-professional learning.

In 2005, Shirley was awarded a CBE for services to education in the National Health Service and in 2014 was appointed DBE for services to Higher Education.

The Committee on Standards in Public Life advises the Prime Minister on ethical standards across the whole of public life in the UK. It monitors and reports on issues relating to the standards of conduct of all public office holders.

Shirley takes up the post effective immediately for a five-year term. Her appointment was made after open competition in line with the Cabinet Office Governance Code regulated by the Commissioner for Public Appointments.

The Committee is currently conducting a short review of MPs’ outside interests and an inquiry into ethical standards in local government.

One Million People Lifted Out Of Absolute Poverty

The number of people living in absolute poverty has fallen by 1 million since 2010, according to statistics released today

Department for Works & Pensions

Department for Works & Pensions

Figures show that children are around 5 times more likely to live in poverty if they live in a workless household, compared to a household where all adults work. The number of children living in a workless household is down by almost 600,000 since 2010.

There’s also good news for household incomes as these have risen to another record high, with income growth continuing to outstrip inflation in 2016/17. Income inequality – the gap between the richest and poorest – has fallen and remains lower than in 2010. Material deprivation rates for children and pensioners are at their lowest ever.

The average household now takes home a record £494 a week, and compared to 2007/08 the poorest fifth of households are seeing an extra £1,000 after inflation added to their annual income.

Minister for Family Support, Housing and Child Maintenance, Kit Malthouse, said:

It’s fantastic news that one million fewer people are living in absolute poverty than in 2010, including 300,000 children. It makes sense that poverty rates are falling while the employment rate is increasing, and today’s figures confirm that work remains the best route out of poverty.

We know there is more to do to ensure that every child gets the very best chances in life. Our welfare reforms offer parents tailored support to move into work, ensuring that even more families can enjoy the opportunities and benefits that work can bring.

The news follows statistics released yesterday which show that the employment rate remains at a joint-record high of 75.3%, with 32.25 million people now in work. On average, we have seen 1,000 more people in a job every day since 2010.

We spend more on family benefits than any other country in the OECD, at 3.8% of GDP. Working families are benefitting from the introduction of the National Living Wage, and the rise in the personal tax threshold is taking the lowest paid out of tax. Through welfare reforms including Universal Credit, the government is making sure it always pays to be in work.

The government is continuing to protect all vulnerable groups in society, with disability benefits being exempt from the benefit freeze and the basic State Pension being protected through the ‘triple lock’.

Equal Access To Education And Care For All Women In Macedonia

British Embassy supports development of inclusive policies and services in Macedonia to help women have improved quality of life

Equal access to education, health and social care for all women in Macedonia

Equal access to education, health and social care for all women in Macedonia

The need for increased social and health care for women and the need to invest more in the education of girls in rural communities in Macedonia were at the centre of the debate we hosted within our work with Macedonia on strengthened policy making.

Researchers presented the findings which reflected the lack of resources and the hot spots where interventions are needed by the state institutions providing social and health care and schooling for girls and women.

The event is part of a two year programme we have been running with the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Macedonia. The programme delivered extra support to government policies which benefit parts of society which, for diverse reasons, find it more difficult to realise their potential, to achieve their ambitions. The groups of people included with this programme were disabled people, Roma, women in rural communities.

Speaking at the event our ambassador Charles Garrett said:

This programme gives voice to the people who really matter. The people who are directly affected by these policies. The people who sometimes cannot fully enjoy their legal rights, social and health care, or access to education. The programme helps ensure that the people designing policies or making decisions hear directly from the people who matter. I have found that people often refer to the cause of disabled or other disadvantaged members of society as being ‘close to their hearts.’ I can understand that. This can be a very emotional subject. But it is also a very practical subject. If you support everyone to achieve their full potential, the boost it gives society – your society – can be huge. So it is about heads as well as hearts.

Among the speakers at the debate were the Health Minister Venko Filipce, representatives of the Ministry of Labour and social policy, researchers, people from the rural communities and members of the civil society.

British Embassy Skopje runs a range of programme assistance in Macedonia providing support in several reform areas with the civil service, judiciary, human rights, democracy, social cohesion, public finance management, strengthening civil society and media. You can find more information about our programme assistance here.

British Judge Highlights Threats To Judicial Independence In Guatemala

In line with the British Embassy’s efforts to tackle corruption, Sir Ross Cranston attended the forum ‘the importance of the election of Guatemala’s next Attorney General and the Future of Justice’ on 21 March in Guatemala City

Sir Ross Cranston

Sir Ross Cranston

The forum was a joint initiative by the Guatemalan Ombudsman’s Office, the organisation ‘Alliance for the Reforms’ and the British Embassy. Participants included; Francisco Rivas, former Guatemalan Minister of the Interior, and representatives of civil society institutions.

Sir Ross Cranston is a professor of law. He was a judge of the High Court, Queen’s Bench Division for just over nine years and the judge in charge of the Administrative Court from January 2016. He was made QC (Queen’s Counsel) in 1998. As Counsel he appeared before the High Court, the Court of Appeal and the House of Lords in Britain, and before the European Court of Human Rights and the Court of Justice of the European Union. He has held consultancies with UNCTAD, the World Bank, and the IMF.

Discussions focused on the importance of the independence of the judiciary, the role of the press as guarantors of transparency, the ideal profile of Guatemala’s next Attorney General, and challenges ahead for the justice system. Jordan Rodas, Guatemalan Ombudsman; and Carolyn Davidson, British Ambassador to Guatemala gave short presentations at the opening of the event.

Well-functioning legal frameworks are essential for protecting the rights of all citizens against unlawful acts by others, including by governments and politicians. Judicial effectiveness requires efficient and fair judicial systems to ensure that laws are fully respected, with appropriate legal actions taken against violations. The forum was an opportunity to take stock of Guatemala’s commitments to these principles.

The United Kingdom has identified countering corruption as a priority area for strengthening law enforcement. To promote transparency and improve judicial independence in Guatemala, the United Kingdom is working with other countries, NGOs, CICIG, and civil society organisations. During his visit Sir Ross Cranston also met with Commissioner Ivan Velasquez to express his support to the work of CICIG and Velasquez’s leadership.

Fintech Sector Strategy Launched At International Fintech Conference

A new cryptoassets task force, the next steps in ‘robo-regulation’ and a UK-Australia ‘fintech bridge' are in the government’s first Fintech Sector Strategy

HM Treasury

HM Treasury

A new cryptoassets task force, the next steps in ‘robo-regulation’ to make it faster and easier for fintech firms to follow complex regulations, and a new UK-Australia ‘fintech bridge’ to help UK firms expand internationally, are some of the innovations expected to be announced by the Chancellor, Philip Hammond, at the government’s second International Fintech Conference, held today (22nd March).

They are set to form part of the government’s first Fintech Sector Strategy, which will be launched at the conference.

Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond said:

From the square mile in London to Scotland’s Silicon Glen, the UK leads the world in harnessing the power of fintech as we create an economy fit for the future.

I am committed to helping the sector grow and flourish, and our ambitious Sector Strategy sets out how we will ensure the UK remains at the cutting edge of the digital revolution. As part of that, a new task force will help the UK to manage the risks around Cryptoassets, as well as harnessing the potential benefits of the underlying technology.

The Fintech Sector Strategy will include:

  • a Cryptoassets Task Force consisting of HM Treasury, the Bank of England, and the Financial Conduct Authority. This will help the UK to be at the forefront of harnessing the potential benefits of the underlying technology, while guarding against potential risks
  • ‘Robo-regulation’ pilot schemes to help new fintech firms, and the financial services industry more widely, comply with regulations by building software which would automatically ensure they follow the rules, saving them time and money
  • appointing three new Fintech Regional Envoys to ensure the benefits of fintech are felt across the UK
  • creating a set of industry standards which will enable fintech firms to more easily partner with existing banks
  • helping new, small fintech firms to provide complex financial services and thereby grow their businesses and reach new customers. Industry and government will work together to create ‘shared platforms’ which will help remove the barriers that these firms face in setting up new systems
  • a Connect with Work programme developed by the government’s Fintech Delivery Panel to help fintech firms to take advantage of the UK’s diverse workforce

At the conference the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Matt Hancock, will also announce that Tech City UK is building a world-leading Fintech Programme across the country. This will support new companies in the sector across the UK to become tomorrow’s global fintech firms.

Digital and Culture Secretary Matt Hancock said:

We are determined to make Britain the best place to start and grow a digital business while giving consumers more choice when it comes to managing their money. This new nationwide fintech programme will help startups right across the country flourish in the future and spread the benefits of this pioneering technology.

At the conference, the Chancellor and Scott Morrison, Treasurer of the Commonwealth of Australia, will sign a new Fintech Bridge agreement. This will help to open up a new important market for UK fintech firms wanting to expand internationally by selling their products and services in Australia. It will also help the two countries to harmonise policies across a range of issues relevant to fintech, and increase regulatory cooperation.

Commenting on the UK-Australia Fintech Bridge, Philip Hammond said:

Today’s UK-Australia Fintech Bridge agreement is our most ambitious to date. It will bring together our regulators, policy makers, and private sectors to build an improved fintech ecosystem to support the growth of our fintech markets.

This is underpinned by the most advanced regulatory partnership that the FCA has signed, connecting the UK to a market of 24 million people and ensuring stronger commercial ties with Australia’s rapidly growing fintech sector.

As part of the Fintech Bridge, Innovate Finance and FinTech Australia will introduce a regular business to business summit, advising the UK and Australian governments on how best to support the sector.

Charlotte Crosswell, CEO, Innovate Finance said:

This exciting partnership between Innovate Finance and FinTech Australia will foster even stronger ties between the fintech communities of our two countries and is an important step in supporting innovation in financial services on an international scale. It offers an excellent opportunity to work together to share industry best practices, strengthen understanding and knowledge of each other’s fintech markets, and drive progressive regulatory approaches to help our fintech sector grow.

The UK fintech sector contributes £6.6 billion annually to the UK economy, and employs over 60,000 people across 1,600 companies. In the first three quarters of this year the sector received a record £2.1 billion investment.

The conference will bring together international investors and UK fintech firms alongside leading industry figures, regulators and policymakers for a day-long programme of talks and pitches promoting the opportunities for global investment in the UK fintech sector. Keynote speakers include:

  • Philip Hammond, Chancellor of the Exchequer
  • Scott Morrison, Treasurer of the Commonwealth of Australia
  • Eileen Burbidge, HM Treasury’s Special Envoy for FinTech
  • Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
  • Jayne-Anne Gadhia, CEO of Virgin Money and Government’s Women in Finance Champion
  • Dame Helena Morrissey DBE, Head of Personal Investing, Legal and General Investment Management
  • Dave Ramsden, Deputy Governor for Markets and Banking at the Bank of England
  • Mark Tucker, Chairman, HSBC
  • Sir George Iacobescu, Chair and CEO, Canary Wharf Group
  • Imran Gulamhuseinwala, Global Head of FinTech at EY
  • Samir Desai, CEO of Funding Circle
  • Steve Hatch, Vice President Europe at Facebook

Full details of the conference

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