EVERY year, the Government makes more than 1000 public appointments to the boards of 550 public bodies. Between them, these bodies spend more than £200 billion a year and touch every aspect of people’s lives in the UK, from developing our schools and hospitals to enhancing the work of galleries and museums.
Over the past 12 months, I have been working to open up public appointments to attract the brightest and the best, besides increasing diversity.
Faith leaders have expressed concerns to me that faith groups are under-represented on these bodies. We need to change that. This is because people from all faiths bring important and informed perspectives to the difficult, contentious, and ethical questions which many of these public bodies tackle daily.
So I am pleased that, today, Faith In Leadership is hosting an event at Windsor Castle, to celebrate how people from different faiths can build on the contributions that they already make to their communities through public appointments. I want to urge faith leaders, as I did with business leaders at 10 Downing Street last week, to encourage fresh talent from all backgrounds and faiths to apply for public appointments, to help shape the public sector.
Because, if we don’t tap that talent as a nation, we are missing a huge pool of expertise that can enrich public service delivery.
Those who want to apply do not have to be an expert in a particular sector to be a credible candidate for these positions. No matter what the business of these public bodies, the fresh perspective that a diverse board can bring could be just what is needed. Bodies ranging from the National Lottery Community Fund and Social Work England to the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs and the Biometrics and Forensics Ethics Group will all be looking for new chairs or board members in the coming months. These are all positions where individuals from a range of backgrounds could make a real difference.
For those who step up to serve, public appointments offer valuable board experience, especially early on in people’s careers, along with a unique insight into how the public sector operates. Many of the public appointees I have spoken to say that the experience has improved their confidence and enhanced their networks, which, in turn, has helped their careers.
By working together, I believe it is a win-win: we can form a virtuous circle that benefits us all. Public bodies gain greater diversity of thought, and those taking up these positions gain in the skills and experience.
We are currently recruiting for just over 30 public appointments. This is a chance for the brightest and the best to make a difference to the country in which we live.
Those interested in finding out more, or who want to apply for a public appointment, visit publicappointments.cabinetoffice.gov.uk.
Oliver Dowden is Minister for Implementation at the Cabinet Office.