Darling provides a home for stricken bankers

The Treasury is apparently hiring a load of ex-bankers. Is this taking state aid a step too far?

Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

Chancellor Alistair Darling is looking to beef up the Treasury by hiring an extra 70 people – and expects most of them to be recently-redundant bankers, according to today’s FT. The department has been struggling to cope with the extra demands on its resources now it owns half of the UK banking sector, and needs to bolster its internal team. Fortunately, there are suddenly lots of bankers around for whom a job at the Treasury no longer seems like such a step down, either financially or professionally…

Most of the new positions being created are in the Treasury’s financial services department, which looks after its dealings with our battered banks and the rest of UK plc. So Darling needs policy wonks who know their way around the City as well as the corridors of Whitehall. Thus far it’s been muddling through by dragging in civil servants from other Government departments (doubling in size in the process), but as it continues to churn out new initiatives, ministers have apparently been moaning that the right message hasn’t been getting across properly.

Of course, the problem that Government and regulators usually have in trying to hire City experts is that these people can earn about ten times as much working in the City. That’s clearly been a big issue in recent years, and new FSA boss Lord Turner has already talked about trying to pay more peanuts to make hiring monkeys less likely. However, the good news is that thanks to the events of the last year, there are suddenly a large number of newly-redundant bankers kicking about with nothing better to do – which tends to do wonders for one’s public-spiritedness. ‘We have already had quite a few applications from former bankers,’ one ‘Treasury insider’ told the FT. ‘Some of them may have suddenly discovered a higher calling to public service.’

This is all well and good, but we imagine some people will be a bit uneasy about the idea that we’re relying on the people who got us into this mess to formulate the policy that will help us get out of it. Admittedly they’re more likely to know where the bodies are buried, so to speak, but a nice cushy job in the Treasury doesn’t exactly tally with the Government’s oft-stated opposition to ‘rewards for failure’, does it...?

In today's bulletin:
Inflation tumbles closer to zero
Darling provides a home for stricken bankers
Domino's Pizza targets working lunches after latest sales boost
Why a bad interview could be costly
Do It Right: Top tips for advertising in a recession

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