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Commissioner for Public Appointments – Annual Report 2018-19

Blog post by Peter Riddell

Wednesday 16 October 2019

‘Progress on diversity on boards of public bodies not coming through to Chair appointments.’

Peter Riddell, independent Commissioner for Public Appointments, today published his annual report for 2018-2019 which contains information about his role in regulating appointments made by Ministers to the boards of public bodies in England and Wales under the Government’s Governance Code.

The report shows that in 2018 – 2019:

  • 972 new appointments and 872 reappointments were made to the boards of regulated public bodies
  • 13% of new appointments were made to people from a BAME background, compared to 10% in 2017-2018
  • 45% of new appointments and reappointments were made to women, compared to 48% in 2017 – 2018
  • 6% of new appointments were made to individuals declaring a disability, compared to 7% in 2017 – 2018
  • 44% of new appointments were made to people aged 55 or under.

Peter Riddell said:

“The message on diversity in public appointments is mixed, though still much better than in the leadership of the private sector. There was continued progress in the percentage of women being appointed and welcome progress in the appointment of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) candidates, but for candidates declaring disabilities, the story is less positive with a slight decrease in the number of appointments and reappointments being made.

“The failure to translate increased representation of women, BAME and candidates declaring disabilities at board level into a higher number of chairs from these backgrounds is worrying, and requires urgent attention from departments and public bodies. Less than a third of newly appointed Chairs were women, and only 2.9 per cent were from a BAME background or declared a disability.

“The underlying objective here for departments is not just achieving some pre-set target for specific protected characteristics but to make boards more effective and responsive through diverse appointments. Well-functioning boards should reflect the community they serve. The broader life experience of many currently under-represented groups gives them much to contribute to the successful functioning and leadership of the boards of public bodies.

“There is also a need for a review of payments to non-executive members of boards to help secure greater diversity. Remuneration for public appointments currently follows no pattern or logic but it has the potential to widen the pool of potential candidates. At present, the system favours older candidates who are able to look for part-time or unremunerated roles because of other incomes, notably pensions. How payments for roles interact with the benefits system was another concern raised by Lord Holmes in his review published earlier this year too. Time after time I have been told by promising, younger and ethnic minority candidates that money does matter.”

Download OCPA’s 2018-2019 annual report (PDF, 78 pages, 3.2MB)

Read Peter Riddell’s latest blog on regulating public appointments

For an accessible version of the annual report, please contact the Office of the Commissioner for Public Appointments

Notes to Editors

  1. Media enquiries about the work of the Commissioner for Public Appointments should go to Maggie O’Boyle on 07880 740627.
  2. Peter Riddell was appointed as Commissioner for Public Appointments on 20 April 2016. The Commissioner for Public Appointments regulates the processes by which Ministers in the UK and Welsh Governments make appointments to the boards of national and regional public bodies.
  3. The post of Commissioner for Public Appointments was created in 1995 following a report by the Committee on Standards in Public Life, chaired by Lord Nolan.
  4. Read more information about the work of the Commissioner 
  5. You can follow the Commissioner for Public Appointments on twitter @publicapptscomm
  6. You can also read Peter Riddell’s blog