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Departure of Sir Nicholas Macpherson GCB, Permanent Secretary to the Treasury, announced

Nick Macpherson joined the Treasury in 1985 and has held various roles in the Treasury, including Principal Private Secretary to Kenneth Clarke and Gordon Brown.


The Permanent Secretary to the Treasury, Sir Nicholas Macpherson, has confirmed that he will step down after over 10 years in the role and leave the Civil Service on 31 March this year.

He was appointed Permanent Secretary in August 2005, following the departure of Sir Gus O’Donnell.

Nick Macpherson, 56, joined the Treasury in 1985. He has held various roles in the Treasury, including Principal Private Secretary to Kenneth Clarke and then Gordon Brown.

Nick Macpherson said:

It has been a privilege to lead the Treasury through an extraordinary period. But after 31 years in the department, and having worked on 33 Budgets and 20 Spending Reviews, it is time to do something else while I still can.

With the fiscal strategy for this Parliament set and the economic recovery well established, now is the right time to stand aside and for someone else to guide the Treasury through the challenges ahead.

I pay tribute to the remarkable energy, creativity, resilience and decency of the Treasury ministers and officials I have worked with.

Cabinet Secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood said:

Nick has had a remarkable career in the Civil Service, providing robust advice to successive governments, without fear or favour, for three decades on some of the most difficult and important issues faced by the country.

In addition, as Permanent Secretary for the last ten years Nick has provided tremendous leadership to the Treasury, with his consistency, strength and insight helping to guide the institution through some of the most significant challenges in its history.

On a personal note I would like to thank Nick for the unwavering support he has given me as Cabinet Secretary and for the massive contribution he has made over the years to maintaining the values, integrity and professionalism of the Civil Service.

He is one of the great public servants of his generation and we will all wish him well when he moves on in April.

Chancellor of the Exchequer and First Secretary of State George Osborne said:

To my mind Nick has been one of the outstanding public servants of his generation. He has been at the helm of the Treasury during the most difficult decade of modern economic policy making and his advice to me has always been intelligent, candid and discreet.

He will be sorely missed by the official team he has built up at the Treasury and ministers, like me, lucky enough to have worked with him.

The process for selecting Nick’s successor as Permanent Secretary to the Treasury will be announced in due course. It will be conducted by the Cabinet Secretary later this year, with a view to the new Permanent Secretary being in place by 1 April.

Any future appointments Nick Macpherson accepts will be considered by the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments in the usual way.

Prior to becoming Permanent Secretary, Nick was Managing Director of the Budget and Public Finance Directorate, where he oversaw the strengthening of the Treasury’s strategic tax policy function.

From 2001 to 2004 Nick headed up the Public Services Directorate, where he managed the 2000 and 2002 Spending Reviews.

Previous Treasury posts included Director of Welfare Reform (1998 to 2001), where he led on reforms to the tax and benefit system, and Principal Private Secretary to the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1993 to 1997) where he oversaw the transition from the Chancellorship of Kenneth Clarke to that of Gordon Brown.

Prior to that Nick worked in a variety of posts, including negotiating the EMU component of the Maastricht Treaty and the UK’s opt out.

Nick is a visiting Professor at King’s College London, and chairs the Policy Committee of the Centre for Economic Performance at the London School of Economics.

Nick joined the Civil Service in 1985 after spells working at the CBI and Peat Marwick Consulting.

Published 4 January 2016