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Work and Pensions First Report of Session 2012–13

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					House of Commons
Work and Pensions Committee

Appointment of the
Chair of the Social
Security Advisory
Committee
First Report of Session 2012–13




                                  HC 297-I
House of Commons
Work and Pensions Committee

Appointment of the
Chair of the Social
Security Advisory
Committee
First Report of Session 2012–13

Volume I: Report, together with formal
minutes

Ordered by the House of Commons
to be printed 20 June 2012




                                                        HC 297-I
                                       Published on 22 June 2012
                           by authority of the House of Commons
                            London: The Stationery Office Limited
                                                            £0.00
The Work and Pensions Committee

The Work and Pensions Committee is appointed by the House of Commons to
examine the expenditure, administration, and policy of the Department for
Work and Pensions and its associated public bodies.

Current membership
Dame Anne Begg MP (Labour, Aberdeen South) (Chair)
Debbie Abrahams MP (Labour, Oldham East and Saddleworth)
Harriett Baldwin MP (Conservative, West Worcestershire)
Andrew Bingham MP (Conservative, High Peak)
Karen Bradley MP (Conservative, Staffordshire Moorlands)
Sheila Gilmore MP (Labour, Edinburgh East)
Oliver Heald MP (Conservative, North East Hertfordshire)
Glenda Jackson MP (Labour, Hampstead and Kilburn)
Brandon Lewis MP (Conservative, Great Yarmouth)
Stephen Lloyd MP (Liberal Democrat, Eastbourne)
Teresa Pearce MP (Labour, Erith and Thamesmead)

The following Members were also members of the Committee during the
Parliament:
Ms Karen Buck MP (Labour, Westminster North), Alex Cunningham MP (Labour,
Stockton North), Margaret Curran MP (Labour, Glasgow East), Richard Graham
MP (Conservative, Gloucester), Kate Green MP (Labour, Stretford and Urmston),
Sajid Javid MP (Conservative, Bromsgrove) and Shabana Mahmood MP (Labour,
Birmingham, Ladywood)

Powers
The Committee is one of the departmental select committees, the powers of
which are set out in House of Commons Standing Orders, principally in SO No
152. These are available on the internet via www.parliament.uk

Publications
The Reports and evidence of the Committee are published by The Stationery
Office by Order of the House. All publications of the Committee (including press
notices) are on the internet at www.parliament.uk/workpencom

The Reports of the Committee, the formal minutes relating to that report, oral
evidence taken and some or all written evidence are available in a printed
volume.


Committee staff
The current staff of the Committee are Carol Oxborough (Clerk), Catherine Tyack
(Second Clerk), James Abbott (Committee Media Adviser), James Clarke (Inquiry
Manager), Emma Sawyer (Senior Committee Assistant), Hannah Beattie
(Committee Assistant).

Contacts
All correspondence should be addressed to the Clerk of the Work and Pensions
Committee, House of Commons, 7 Millbank, London SW1P 3JA. The telephone
number for general enquiries is 020 7219 2839; the Committee's email address is
workpencom@parliament.uk
                                                                      1




Contents
Report                                                             Page


1   Introduction                                                     3
          The selection process                                      3

2   The SSAC                                                         4
          Membership and Constitution                                5

3   Appointment of a new SSAC Chair                                  6
          Role of the Chair                                          6
          Conclusion                                                 7

    Appendix 1: CV of Mr Paul Gray CB                                8

    Appendix 2: Extract from the DWP Candidate Information pack     10



Formal Minutes                                                      11

Witness                                                             12

List of Reports from the Committee during the current Parliament    12
                                                                                                                     3




1 Introduction
1. A process was agreed between the Liaison Committee and the Government in 2008
under which the Government's preferred candidate for certain public posts would be
subject to pre-appointment hearings by the relevant departmental select committee. 1 The
post of Chair of the Social Security Advisory Committee (SSAC) is one of the posts which
fall within the responsibility of the Work and Pensions Committee. 2 The hearings are
intended to explore the candidate’s suitability for the role, particularly their independence
and expertise, and their ability to withstand public and parliamentary scrutiny. 3

2. The Minister for Welfare Reform informed us on 11 June 2012 that Paul Gray CB was
the Secretary of State’s preferred candidate for the post. The Minister invited us to hold a
pre-appointment hearing and to report on the preferred candidate’s suitability for the role.

3. We conducted a pre-appointment hearing with Mr Gray on 20 June 2012. 4 His CV is
set out at Appendix 1.

The selection process
4. The previous Chair, Deep Sagar, resigned in October 2011, after only six months in post.
In our previous report, we endorsed his appointment but drew attention to “his lack of
direct experience in social security policy”, recommending that “he will need to be able to
demonstrate a deep understanding of the issues at an early stage in his appointment”. We
were sorry to see that our concerns about his suitability were confirmed by his resignation.

5. In our report on the appointment of the previous Chair, we also drew attention to the
way in which DWP had conducted the selection process, stating “it is important that DWP
ensures that its timescales for the various stages of the public appointment selection
processes in which it is involved are realistic from the outset and that deadlines are met
throughout, in order to avoid delays and uncertainty which are unhelpful for [all]
concerned.” We are pleased to note that this current recruitment round has been more
efficient than the previous one.




1   First Report of the Liaison Committee, Session 2007–08, Pre-appointment hearings by select committees, HC 384; and
    First Special Report, Session 2007–08, Pre-appointment hearings by select committees: Government Response to the
    Committee’s First Report of Session 2007–08, HC 594; see also First Report of the Liaison Committee, Session 2010-
    12, Select committees and public appointments, HC 830
2   The other posts within the Work and Pensions Committee remit are the Pensions Ombudsman and the Pension
    Protection Fund Ombudsman (held by the same individual)
3   HC 384 (Session 2007-08), para 13; HC 594 (2007-08), p 2; see also Cabinet Office Guidance for Departments on pre-
    appointment hearings by select committees, August 2009
4   Oral evidence taken on 20 June 2012 from Paul Gray, the Government’s preferred candidate for the post of Chair of
    the Social Security Advisory Committee, HC 297-II
4




2 The SSAC
6. The SSAC is an independent statutory body established under the Social Security Act
1980 and funded by DWP. It is an advisory body and has no executive functions. It has the
power to scrutinise proposals for secondary legislation. Its main duties are as follows:

•   To give advice on social security matters as it sees fit
    This includes examining and publishing reports on policy issues. This work is
    supported by frequent meetings with outside organisations and visits to DWP delivery
    centres. The SSAC has no statutory responsibility for operational matters but is
    encouraged to examine the operational implications of changes.

•   To consider and report on social security regulations referred to it
    The Secretary of State must submit draft regulations or proposals for regulations to the
    SSAC. (There is a similar requirement on the relevant Northern Ireland department
    responsible for social security matters.) The SSAC then normally conducts a public
    consultation to ensure its reports are informed by a wide range of evidence. The SSAC
    says that the Secretary of State “is obliged to take account of” its recommendations.
    When the regulations are laid before Parliament, the SSAC report must also be laid.
    The SSAC does not examine regulations which set benefit rates.

•   To consider and advise on any matters referred to it by the Secretary of State for
    Work and Pensions
    (This duty also applies to the Northern Ireland department responsible for social
    security matters.) Government seeks the SSAC’s views more informally and invites it to
    comment at an early stage on policy proposals. Public consultations are not usually
    undertaken on these topics but informal discussions are held with interested parties.

•   To scrutinise information products produced by DWP
    The SSAC examines samples of printed and electronic information products to ensure
    they are “clear enough for any reasonable person to understand and there are no
    significant omissions”. These include documents produced for guidance of staff of
    DWP and its agencies as well as the general public and independent advice agencies.
    The SSAC also assesses how effectively the guidance is used by staff when handling
    queries from the public. 5

DWP has recently carried out a review of the SSAC, including its status as a non-
departmental public body, to fulfil the requirement on departments to review their arm’s
length bodies at least every three years, in order to assess whether the functions they
perform are still necessary (“the Triennial Review”). The review findings were published on
19 June. 6



5   Guide to the remit and responsibilities of the SSAC, available on the SSAC website at http://ssac.independent.gov.uk
6   DWP, Review by the Department for Work and Pensions of the Social Security Advisory Committee, June 2012
                                                                                       5




Membership and Constitution
7. Appointments to the SSAC are overseen by the Commissioner for Public Appointments.
The Secretary of State is required to appoint a Chair and between 10 and 13 members.
They hold office for three to five years and may serve a number of terms up to a maximum
of 10 years. Members are paid an attendance fee and travel expenses to attend meetings.

8. One member is appointed following consultation with representatives of employers
(CBI); one following consultation with representatives of workers (TUC); and one
following consultation with the Northern Ireland Department for Social Development.
There is also a requirement to appoint a member who “has experience of the chronically
sick or disabled or someone who is chronically sick or disabled”. A member from Scotland
and one from Wales is also appointed to the SSAC “by custom”.

9. The SSAC is supported by a secretariat of five staff, on secondment from DWP and
HMRC. The Chair is responsible for line management of the secretariat staff.
6




3 Appointment of a new SSAC Chair
Role of the Chair
10. The post of SSAC Chair is a fixed term appointment of three years with the option of
one renewal. The Chair’s remuneration is £22,000 per annum with travel and subsistence
expenses reimbursed. The time commitment is five days a month. 7

11. The Chair is responsible for “planning and controlling” the SSAC’s business, keeping
up to date with social security matters, and liaison with DWP and its service delivery
agencies. 8 The Chair represents the SSAC in discussions with Ministers and external
bodies.

12. The Candidate Information pack for the post says that statutory scrutiny of draft
regulations “entails mastering complex legal and technical detail, as well as understanding
the operational context in which legislation will be brought into effect.” A key part of the
Chair’s role is also to “develop and maintain productive relationships” with Ministers,
departmental officials and the SSAC’s external stakeholders. 9

13. The essential skills required for the post, according to the Candidate Information pack,
are:

     •     A significant track record of leadership at board level;

     •    An understanding of public policy, experience of evaluating and advising
          objectively on complex issues and the ability to take a strategic overview;

     •    Demonstrable ability to co-ordinate and direct the contributions of Committee
          Members presenting differing views and opinions, set direction and monitor
          Committee performance;

     •    An understanding of the political and financial context in which social security
          operates;

     •    Ability to take an independent stance whilst demonstrating tact and sensitivity; and

     •    An excellent communicator with strong ambassadorial and presentational skills. 10

14. In the hearing, we sought to establish whether Mr Gray had the necessary attributes for
the post in terms of: independence and expertise; ability to understand the complex and
technical nature of welfare legislation; the necessary robustness to defend the SSAC’s
interests in a period of change; and the persuasiveness to ensure that the SSAC remains a
strong influence on Government policy and a robust defender of the principles of effective
welfare provision.



7    Candidate Information pack, p 6
8    Notice advertising vacancy for SSAC Chair, February 2012
9    Candidate Information pack, p 4
10   See Appendix 2
                                                                                     7




Conclusion
15. We are pleased to endorse Mr Paul Gray’s appointment to the post of Chair of the
Social Security Advisory Committee. He has had a long and distinguished career
working in some of the largest and most complex government departments, including
the Department for Work and Pensions and HM Revenue and Customs. His knowledge
and detailed understanding of their work will be invaluable in the role of SSAC Chair.
His experience as interim Chair of the SSAC since November 2011 means that he is very
well placed to take up the permanent post and will ensure continuity for the
organisation at a time of rapid welfare reform.

16. The outcome of the Triennial Review of the SSAC was announced on 19 June. We
plan to monitor Mr Gray’s contribution to taking forward the SSAC’s work in the
context of the recommendations arising from the Review. We look forward to
continuing the constructive relationship between this Committee and the SSAC.
8




Appendix 1: CV of Mr Paul Gray CB
Current Roles
Chair, Praesta Partners LLP Since May 2008 I have been a leadership coach on a 3 days
a week basis. I work with senior leaders and executive teams from all sectors.

Interim Chair, Social Security Advisory Committee since November 2011

Pro Bono Positions
(i) Chair of Governors, Newport Free Grammar School, Essex, since 2008
(ii) Member of Council and the Finance and Strategy Committee, University of
Essex, since 2008

Previous Board Level Roles
2009-10
Chair, Refugee and Migrant Justice (charity now sadly in administration)

2006- 07
Executive Chairman (Permanent Secretary), HM Revenue and Customs
Led complex organisation of 90,000 staff /£400 billion revenue
Principal Accounting Officer handling many Select Committee appearances

2004-06
Deputy Chairman (2nd Permanent Secretary), HMRC
Designed and implemented Inland Revenue/Customs and Excise merger
Chief Operating Officer for the merged Department
Non-Executive Director, Department for Work and Pensions (DWP)

2002-04
Managing Director (2nd Permanent Secretary), DWP
Coordination of pensions and older people policy issues across Government
Non-Executive Chair of Pension Service (15,000 staff/£70 billion budget)

1998-2002
Director-General and Head of Policy, Department of Social Security
Cross-Government lead on social security policy issues
Consumer champion for the Department

1995-98
Director-General, Budget and Public Finances, HM Treasury
Civil service coordinator for four Budgets and first Pre-Budget Report
                                                                                  9




1994-95
Director, Personnel, Finance and Support, HM Treasury
Implemented Fundamental Expenditure Review of the Department

1993-95
Non-Executive Director, Laing Management Ltd
(Part-time) Sole Non-Executive Director of major construction projects business

Earlier Career Details
1990-93      Director, Monetary Group, HM Treasury
1988-90      Economic Affairs Private Secretary to the Prime Minister
1987         Head of Division, Employment and Industry, HM Treasury
1984-86      Head of Division, Public Expenditure Survey, HM Treasury
1979-83      Principal, Agriculture Division, HM Treasury
1977-79      Corporate Planning Executive, Booker McConnell Ltd
1974-77      Principal, Home Finance Division, HM Treasury
1969-74      Junior economist and administrative posts, HM Treasury

Education
1966-69 London School of Economics BSc (Econ)
1959-65 Wyggeston Boys’ School, Leicester

Honours and Professional Awards
Companion of the Order of the Bath (2000)
Companion of the Chartered Management Institute (2007)
Certificate of Professional Development in Executive Coaching, University of
Strathclyde (2009)

Personal Details
Date of Birth: 2 August 1948
Married to Lynda (1972); 2 sons (33 and 31), 1 granddaughter
Interests: Family, gardening, sport, foreign travel
10




Appendix 2: Extract from the DWP
Candidate Information pack
The Chair is responsible for the orderly management of Committee business. The major
part of this is the statutory scrutiny of proposals for secondary legislation but it also
includes keeping in touch with the Department’s business more generally. Scrutinising
and, where the Committee so decides, reporting on draft regulations entails mastering
complex legal and technical detail, as well as understanding the operational context in
which legislation will be brought into effect. Preparing, commenting on and clearing
Committee papers, draft reports and correspondence can call for sustained effort, working
to tight deadlines. The Chair ensures that Committee members work effectively as a team,
respecting and reflecting its independent role. The Chair also develops and maintains
productive relationships with Ministers, Departmental officials and the Committee’s
external stakeholders to inform SSAC’s work.

Essential Experience

•    A significant track record of leadership at Board Level;
•    An understanding of public policy, experience of evaluating and advising objectively
     on complex issues and the ability to take a strategic overview;
•    Demonstrable ability to co-ordinate and direct the contributions of Committee
     Members presenting differing views and opinions, set direction and monitor
     Committee performance;
•    An understanding of the political and financial context in which social security
     operates;
•    Ability to take an independent stance whilst demonstrating tact and sensitivity; and
•    An excellent communicator with strong ambassadorial and presentational skills.

Desirable

•    Awareness of Government policy and issues of public concern relating to the UK
     benefits system and related social policy issues;
•    An understanding of finance and governance issues;
•    Knowledge of the environment in which the public sector operates.
                                                                                                         11




Formal Minutes
                                     Wednesday 20 June 2012
                                              Members present:

                Debbie Abrahams                               Oliver Heald
                Karen Bradley                                 Glenda Jackson
                Sheila Gilmore


In the absence of the Chair, Oliver Heald was called to the Chair for the meeting.

Draft Report (Appointment of the Chair of the Social Security Advisory Committee), proposed by the Chair,
brought up and read.

Ordered, That the draft Report be read a second time, paragraph by paragraph.

Paragraphs 1 to 16 read and agreed to.

Two papers were appended to the Report as Appendix 1 and 2.

Resolved, That the Report be the First Report of the Committee to the House.

Ordered, That the Chair make the Report to the House.

Ordered, That embargoed copies of the Report be made available, in accordance with the provisions of
Standing Order No. 134.

                                                               [Adjourned till Wednesday 27 June at 9.15 am.
12




Witness
Wednesday 20 June 2012                                                                        Page


Paul Gray CB, preferred candidate for the post of Chair of the Social
Security Advisory Committee                                                                   Ev 1




List of Reports from the Committee during
the current Parliament
The reference number of the Government’s response to each Report is printed in brackets after the
HC printing number.



Session 2010–12
First Report           Youth Unemployment and the Future Jobs Fund                HC 472 (HC 844)
Second Report          Changes to Housing Benefit announced in the June           HC 469 (HC 845)
                       2010 Budget
Third Report           Appointment of the Chair of the Social Security                      HC 904
                       Advisory Committee
Fourth Report          Work Programme: providers and contracting                 HC 718 (HC 1438)
                       arrangements
Fifth Report           The Government’s proposed child maintenance              HC 1047 (HC 1727)
                       reforms
Sixth Report           The role of incapacity benefit reassessment in helping   HC 1015 (HC 1641)
                       claimants into employment
Seventh Report         Government support towards the additional living                    HC 1493
                       cost of working-age disabled people                         (HC (12- 13)105)


Eighth Report          Automatic enrolment in workplace pensions and the                   HC 1494
                       National Employment Savings Trust                            (HC (12-13)154)

				
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Description: Work and Pensions First Report of Session 2012–13