Topshop boss drafted in to help spending cuts

Sir Humphrey's worst nightmare, as Philip Green is appointed as the Coalition's cost-cutting tsar.

Last Updated: 06 Nov 2012
We may have a brand new Government, but the enthusiasm for enlisting the services of big-hitting entrepreneurs continues unabated. Where once, Suralan became Lord Alan, enterprise tsar, it appears the latest Westminster business pin-up is none other than billionaire retailer Sir Philip Green. The effing and blinding Topshop entrepreneur, best known to gossip column readers as Kate Moss’s BFF, has been drafted in to head up a team which will look for new ways to make efficiency savings in Government departments; he says he wants to ‘restart growth’ in the UK. It’s an ambitious plan – but if he can wend his way into Kate Moss’s affections, he's clearly a man of many talents...
From his yacht currently cruising the Med, Green will be tasked with going over the last three years’ government spending ‘to identify inefficiencies and potential savings’, said the Cabinet Office. And he’s clearly planning to take his new role seriously: he says he’ll apply the same ‘rigorous criteria’ to government spending as he would to any of his businesses. Bearing in mind this is the man who has been quoted saying he is ‘prepared to micro-manage stores down to the clothes hangers’, expect much fevered paperclip-counting to take place in Whitehall over the next month.
In his first cost-cutting move, it appears Green will be generously donating his time, rather than being paid – something that must sit uncomfortably for a man who once paid himself £1.2bn, the largest pay-cheque in corporate history. Perhaps he’ll think of it as a service to his country – or a way to pay back the tax he is alleged to have avoided with the help of his conveniently-located wife Tina who, it turns out, spends most of her year in Monaco. ‘No one knows more about cost-cutting than I do’, he boasted from his yacht last week. Well, quite…
Green will submit his report at the end of September, just in time for George Osborne to incorporate some of his best suggestions in October’s spending review. We’re not sure where this may be leading. His negotiation style may be unsurpassed when it comes to getting threads on the nation’s teens, but trying to work out how to cut the cost of Trident is a different ball game.  The guy who made the fastest billion in the history of the UK could well tire of the interminable ways of Whitehall as rapidly as all those who previously were lured down the path of helping out HMG. 

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