“Theresa May’s government has been accused of changing the rules on public appointments to make it easier in future for ministers to pick their political allies for senior jobs at the BBC and regulators such as Ofsted.
The new code on public appointments will give ministers greater powers over who oversees a raft of agencies, watchdogs and advisory committees, while weakening the involvement of the independent commissioner for public appointments, who scrutinises the system.
Labour said the changes, which will come into force on 1 January, represent a “power grab” by ministers and risk returning to the days of patronage and cronyism in public life.
Ministers have always had the final say over appointments to senior public sector jobs, advised by a panel that shortlists “appointable” people. However, independent assessors, chosen by the commissioner to oversee the most important competitions, will be abolished in favour of independent senior panel members picked by ministers.
Labour warns of return to cronyism amid public appointments review
The members will have to be independent of the departments and not currently politically active, but the commissioner will only have a consultative role.
Ministers will also be able to overrule the panel by choosing candidates not deemed to be appointable and have the right to dispense with an open competition without the permission of the commissioner, although they will have to consult with the watchdog and openly justify the decision. …”