U.K. Scraps Big-Name Business Panel Led by Bank of England’s Haldane

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U.K. Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng scrapped a panel of high-profile business advisers that was set up 2 1/2 years ago to advise the government on its industrial strategy.

The panel will close on April 1, Kwarteng told its 16 members, including Chairman Andy Haldane -- the Bank of England’s chief economist -- in a letter dated Wednesday and seen by Bloomberg. He said he’d taken the decision with Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak, because the U.K. is “in a completely different economic situation” from when the council was conceived in 2017.

“We have left the European Union with an ambitious free trade agreement and legislated to reach net zero emissions by 2050, and we are working to recover from the devastating impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic,” Kwarteng wrote. “It is therefore right that we look again at our long-term plan to drive jobs and economic growth.”

Closing the panel may spark concerns about the government’s commitment to working with business, coming after Sunak on Wednesday unveiled a tax-raising budget in which he became the first chancellor since Denis Healey in 1974 to raise corporation tax.

Nevertheless, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has established his own “Build Back Better Council” of business leaders, which will meet quarterly and advise the government on obstacles and solutions to drive growth.

Championing Business

Kwarteng sought to reassure members that “the government is, and will continue to be, a champion of the needs of business and industry.”

The letter was reported earlier by Sky News.

The council first met in November 2018, charged with evaluating the success of former Prime Minister Theresa May’s industrial strategy. Members include Marks & Spencer Group Plc Chairman Archie Norman, former John Lewis Partnership Plc Chairman Charlie Mayfield, former Virgin Money Chief Executive Officer Jayne-Anne Gadhia and Vivian Hunt, Managing Partner for McKinsey & Co. in the U.K. and Ireland.

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