DIT's James Bowler named Treasury perm sec

He will be joined by second perm secs Cat Little and Beth Russell

New Treasury perm sec James Bowler. Photo: Department for International Trade

By Tevye Markson

10 Oct 2022

James Bowler has been appointed as the Treasury's new permanent secretary.

The Department for International Trade perm sec will replace Sir Tom Scholar, who was sacked by chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng last month.

Bowler, who has 20 years of experience working in the Treasury and was also previously the Cabinet Office perm sec overseeing the coronavirus response, said he will use his experience to help the department to "navigate the opportunities and challenges of the global economy that lie ahead".

He will be joined by two new second perm secs: Cat Little and Beth Russell.

Little has been director general of public spending since March 2020, and previously worked at the Ministry of Justice and Ministry of Defence.

Russell has worked at the Treasury for more than 20 years, most recently as director general of tax and welfare; she also currently heads up the Darlington Economic Campus.

The process to recruit new second perm secs ran for more than four months, following Sir Charles Roxburgh’s departure in June.

Little and Russell have led the department as acting permanent secretaries for the last month, while the permanent picks for the top roles were finalised.

Just a week ago, Ministry of Justice perm sec Antonia Romeo seemed set to get the top job.

The appointment was “all but done” before prime minister Liz Truss decided to overrule Kwarteng and pick Bowler instead, according to various reports today.

Truss reportedly U-turned over concerns that appointing an "outsider" to the department as perm sec would further unsettle the markets, which were spooked by the government’s tax-cutting bonanza last month.

However, the government has told Sky News there was no U-turn and the chancellor and prime minister made the decision together.

All three appointments were made by cabinet secretary Simon Case with the approval of Truss and in agreement with the chancellor, the press release said.

Case said Bowler is "one of the government's most expert and experienced economic policy makers, who has served many chancellors over the last two decades".

Kwarteng praised Bowler's "enormous experience delivering across a range of government departments", adding that Little and Russell will "bring experience and continuity".

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