Sir Ian Cheshire steps down as government’s lead non-executive director

Cabinet secretary pays tribute to Cheshire as  "a great personal support and source of wise counsel" to senior colleagues

Cabinet Office. Photo: PA

By Suzannah.Brecknell

31 Mar 2020

The government’s lead non-executive director, Sir Ian Cheshire, stepped down from his position this week.

Cheshire, who is chairman of Barclays UK, was appointed lead non-executive director for government and Cabinet Office in 2015, having previously served as lead non-executive at the Department for Work and Pensions. 

As the government's lead non-executive, Cheshire has pushed departments to have more regular and better quality board meetings, as well as to improve the quality of their management information. Departmental boards bring together non-executives, ministers and civil servants and are seen as a way to introduce private sector expertise into government. 


In his most recent annual report, published in 2019, former retail magnate Cheshire also said he was concerned about lack of diversity data available on government's non-executive directors, and called on Cabinet Office to better collect and monitor data on racial diversity across departmental boards.

Announcing his departure this week, Cheshire said: “It has been a wonderful privilege to work on supporting government improvement. I believe the addition of non-executives to enhanced departmental boards has promoted change and improvement in governance and risk management and that I leave the government in a strong position to continue its transformation journey.

“There is much more to do, but it is now time for a new perspective on how the non-executives continue to contribute. I have deep admiration and respect for the work of officials in the Cabinet Office and civil service as a whole, and wish them well for this next phase."

Cabinet secretary Sir Mark Sedwill said: “Sir Ian Cheshire and his team of non-executives have provided the civil service with significant expertise and wisdom from both the private and voluntary sectors. Throughout his tenure, Sir Ian has focused on embedding a strong non-executive presence across departmental boards, committed to civil service reform, underpinned by support, scrutiny and constructive challenge.

"Ian has been a great personal support and source of wise counsel to me and other senior colleagues, not just in the Cabinet Office but across the civil service as a whole. I wish him well for the future.”

The prime minister will announce a new lead non-executive director for government in due course.

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