Former Goldman Sachs chief economist Jim O’Neill is to be made a peer and will help shape the Government’s devolution plans as commercial secretary to the Treasury.
In a speech in Manchester yesterday, Chancellor George Osborne announced O’Neill – who coined the term Brics to describe emerging economies – would be placed “right in the heart of Government”.
He said: “I’m very pleased to announce that the Prime Minister has appointed him to my department as the commercial secretary to the Treasury – right in the heart of Government, in the department that historically fought tooth and nail to stop giving up power, we have a brilliant new minister to help make devolution and the northern powerhouse happen.
“And he’ll work to deliver the big infrastructure investments and links to emerging economies our country needs.”
Since the Scottish independence referendum and the Scottish National Party’s election triumph, calls for greater devolution away from Westminster have grown louder.
A Cities Devolution Bill will be in the Queen’s Speech later this month.
Osborne said: “This law will pave the way for Greater Manchester – and, importantly, other cities as well, to take greater control and responsibility over all the key things that make a city work, from transport and housing to skills, and key public services like health and social care.
“It means by the end of this year the legal framework will be set so that any city can proceed to implement a mayoral devolution deal.”
O’Neill worked at Goldman Sachs between 1995 and 2013. He chaired the Cities Growth Commission until October 2014, is chairing a review into anti-microbial resistance and is a non-executive director the Department of Education.
The role is unpaid.