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Public Appointments Commissioner Annual Report 2017-18

Blog post by Peter Riddell

Monday 15 October 2018

Peter Riddell – ‘The determination that has successfully increased the number of women on the boards of public bodies now needs to go into increasing the numbers of appointments of people from a black or minority ethnic background and people who declare a disability.”

Peter Riddell, independent Commissioner for Public Appointments, today published his annual report for 2017-18 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 also includes some management information based on an annual survey about public appointments.

The report shows that in 2017-18:          

  • 950 new appointments and 932 reappointments were made to the boards of regulated public bodies, down from 1275 and 956 in the previous year
  • 48% of appointments and reappointments were made to women, up from 46% the previous year
  • 10% of appointments and reappointments went to candidates with a black and minority ethnic (BAME) background, the same percentage as in the previous two years.
  • 7% of appointments are reappointments went to candidates who declared a disability, up from 6% the previous year and 4% in 2015-16.
  • 20% of new appointments went to candidates aged 45 or under, up from 18% in the previous year.

Peter Riddell said:

“This is the first annual report to cover a full 12 months of the operation of the Government’s new Governance Code which came into force in January 2017. The typical flow of appointments and reappointments in this year was significantly disrupted by the June 2017 election period which inevitably meant there were long delays in some competitions under way, or about to start, before the election campaign. While there was more public appointments activity in the second half of the reporting year, there has been an impact on the number and pattern of appointments and reappointments, making comparisons with previous years – and monitoring the actual time each competition takes – less straightforward.

“I welcome the lead provided by the Cabinet Office on diversity in public appointments, and the review into raising the number of candidates with disabilities being conducted for the Government by Lord Holmes of Richmond, but regret that more is not being said publicly by other departments, as shown by the absence of references in most single departmental plans. Permanent Secretaries rightly celebrate progress in promoting diversity in the civil service via social media, awards and networking events, and I will continue to urge them to do the same for public appointments sponsored by their departments. One of my main priorities now is to try and see that the increase in the number of women candidates, and recently chairs, being appointed is matched among candidates with a BAME background and those declaring a disability. The quality of the data remains patchy and departments and public bodies need to do more to encourage the completion of diversity questionnaires returned by candidates.”

“Overall, the introduction of the government’s new Code has generally gone more smoothly than some feared at the time it was being debated two years ago. This is partly because of some of the safeguards which I negotiated: notably that my office should be consulted, rather than just notified, if ministers want to dispense with a competition or appoint someone who has not been assessed as appointable by an advisory interview panel. This was intended to allow time for discussion between my office and departments. The widespread worries expressed two years ago over an erosion of the Nolan principles of appointment by merit after a fair and open competition have by and large not materialised because ministers have so far acted with restraint. I am not in any way complacent and am always alert to threat to the principles set out in the Code.”

Download OCPA annual report

Read Peter Riddell’s latest blog on regulating 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. For more information about the work of the Commissioner go to:
  5. You can follow the Commissioner for Public Appointments on twitter @publicapptscomm
  6. You can also read the Peter Riddell’s blog: