Lord Kerslake

A former Head of the Civil Service, Lord Bob Kerslake led the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) from November 2010, stepping down in February 2015.Prior to his DCLG role, Lord Kerslake was the first Chief Executive of the Homes and Communities Agency, where he was responsible for promoting new and affordable housing supply; supporting the regeneration of cities, towns and neighbourhoods; improving existing housing stock, and advancing sustainability and good design.

He has been Chair of London’s King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust from 1 April 2015. He joined Peabody as Chair on 1 June 2015. He was announced as the new Chair of the Centre for Public Scrutiny (CfPS) in early June 2015, and was officially appointed as President-Elect of the Local Government Association at their annual conference on 30 June 2015. He also chairs the London Housing Commission.

Before joining the Civil Service Lord Kerslake spent eight years serving the London Borough of Hounslow and then a further 11 years leading Sheffield Council.

Alan Buckle

Alan Buckle is an accountant and management consultant. He was deputy chairman of KPMG International, during which time he was accountable for the overall strategic direction and organisation of their business. He has been an adviser to a number of major corporates on a wide range of financial issues. He will bring considerable private sector and business expertise to the group.

Alan has advised Labour since the 1990s. Recently he lead the Labour Party’s policy work on Low Pay which proposed a progressive but managed increase to a realistic minimum wage and the encouragement of the payment of a genuine Living Wage. He was a member of the party’s Infrastructure Commission, which proposed the creation of a long term planning process for investment in the country’s infrastructure. He also managed the work to prepare for government in the event of a Labour victory, which included proposals for the better working of the Whitehall machine.

Stephen Hughes

Stephen has had a long career in local government including eight and half years as Birmingham City Council’s Chief Executive, where he led the ambitious Business Transformation process and drove the Council’s commitment to the local economy.   

Much of his career has been in finance, having led the Finance function at Islington and Brent and gone to Birmingham as Director of Resources.  He has also been a finance policy officer at two local authority associations and spent a year on secondment managing Council Tax and Business rates policy for the then DETR.  He has built a reputation as an expert and independent thinker on local government finance, and served as a Commissioner on both the London Finance Commission and the Independent Finance Commission set up by CIPFA and LGA.

Since leaving Birmingham Stephen has carried out a number of roles including a year as a strategic advisor to CIPFA, eight months as Interim Executive Director at the Local Government Association with a lead role around local government finance, associate advisor to Bevan Brittan, freelance consultancy work, and Non-executive Director roles with Big Bang Ltd and Housing and Care 21.

Frances O’Grady

Frances is the General Secretary of the TUC. She first joined the TUC as Campaigns Officer in 1994, and went onto launch the TUC’s Organising Academy in 1997.

Frances headed up the TUC’s organisation department in 1999, reorganising local skills projects into unionlearn which now helps a quarter of a million workers into learning every year.

As Deputy General Secretary from 2003, Frances led on the environment, industrial policy, the NHS and winning an agreement covering the 2012 Olympics. She has served as a member of the Low Pay Commission, the High Pay Centre and the Resolution Foundation’s Commission on Living Standards.

Frances was born in Oxford, has two adult children and lives in North London.

Karel Williams

Karel Williams is a professor at the University of Manchester’s Alliance Manchester Business School where he was director of the ESRC funded Centre for Research on Socio Cultural Change (cresc.ac.uk).  He is best known as a senior member of a research team that pioneered critical work on shareholder value, financialization and corporate strategy in the 2000s and subsequently produced a broad inter disciplinary analysis of the post 2008 financial crisis as an “elite debacle”.

More recently Karel has worked on the dysfunctions of the mundane “foundational economy” and problems about the provision of basic goods and services within a competition and markets framework. His recent publications include a book on how and why government outsourcing goes wrong: the double focus of What a Waste (2015) is on the contracts and on the outsourcing companies as bidding machines which arbitrage limited liability. His public interest work includes a current project on adult care and recently, What Wales could be (2015), a report funded by the Federation of Small Businesses (Wales) on alternative economic policies for an unsuccessful region.


Simon Wren-Lewis

Simon Wren-Lewis is currently Professor of Economic Policy at the Blavatnik School of Government at Oxford University and an Emeritus Fellow of Merton College. He began his career in H.M.Treasury, and then moved to the National Institute of Economic and Social Research, where he ended up as Head of Macroeconomic Research. In 1990 he became a professor at Strathclyde University, and from 1995 to 2006 he was at Exeter University. He has published papers on macroeconomics in a wide range of leading academic journals.

He writes on economic policy issues in various publications and at his blog: mainlymacro.blogspot.com. His academic work has often had a policy focus. In 1989 he published, with colleagues at the National Institute, a study suggesting that an entry rate of 1.95 DM/£ into the ERM was too high (at the time a minority view). In 2002 he wrote one of the background papers for the Treasury’s 2003 assessment of its five economic tests for joining EMU. He has advised the Bank of England on the development of its core macroeconomic models. A long time advocate of Fiscal Councils, his 2007 proposal was influential in the formation of the UK‘s Office of Budget Responsibility.