Government clearance needed for £200,000 year role for Eileen

Eileen Milner wins approval for CAPCA top job

Eileen Milner, departing chief executive for the Combined Authority: Mayor Dr Nik Johnson is facing difficult questions over his alleged conduct. - Credit: ARCHANT

She may have overcome multiple interviews to win a £200,000 a year role but Eileen Milner, it has been revealed, had one last hurdle before she got the job.  

As a former civil servant, Ms Milner was obliged to receive clearance from the Government’s business appointments committee before becoming chief executive of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority (CAPCA). 

Their report, just published, reveals that Ms Milner, chief executive officer for the Education and Skills Funding Agency, (ESFA) “sought advice” on her new appointment.  

Former civil servants taking up outside appointments must go through the advisory committee “to protect the integrity of the government”.  

Under the rules, the committee’s remit is to “consider the risks associated with the actions and decisions made during her time in office, alongside the information and influence she may offer CAPCA”. 

The committee noted that Ms Milner did not meet with CAPCA while in service and did not make any policy or regulatory decisions specifically affecting CAPCA.  

They looked at her role with ESFA surrounding adult education budgets but felt the risk she could be seen to have been offered this role as a reward for decisions made, or actions taken in office, was low. 

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The committee also noted she had access to a broad range of general information that could unfairly benefit any local government authority, including CAPCA.  

“However, the committee noted the Department for Education (DfE) raised no specific concern regarding her access to information and she has an ongoing duty of confidentiality,” it reports. 

And although she had contacts with the government, in particular with the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) and Department for Transport (DfT)., the committee felt the “the risk of undue influence here was considered limited”. 

The report added: “Further, the proposed contact is not directly with her former department or agency.  

“The committee considered it would be inappropriate for her to use her contacts improperly to influence the government, for example in relation to educational funding.  

“However, the contact she described in undertaking her duties as CEO would not be improper”. 

They did, however, subject Ms Milner to conditions that will influence her decision making over the next two years.  

"She must not, at any time, draw on any privileged information gained in office,” says the committee. 

“Any contact with the government, directly or indirectly, must only be where it could not reasonably be perceived as improper use of her time in government service to lobby.” 

For two years from her last day in Crown service, she must not work or advise on any bids to secure governmental funding or contracts.  

She may only work on or advise on the subject matter of contracts CAPCA may have with the government provided she does not draw on any privileged information or contacts from her time in office. 

Ms Milner said that As CEO it will be her responsibility to ensure that CAPCA is well led, that effective governance exists and that performance is well-described and monitored effectively.  

She expected her role to involve contact with government.  

She said there will undoubtedly be a need for engagement with MHCLG, DfT and possibly HMT.  

She said these would be “very much part of the natural rhythm of the way in which local government works”. 

Ms Milner said she did not meet with CAPCA while in service and made no policy or regulatory decisions affecting CAPCA.  

The committee acknowledged that the Department of Education “had no concerns with regards to this application” and recommended they apply “the standard conditions”. 

Mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, Dr Nik Johnson, described Ms Milner as an “outstanding, experienced individual”. 

He said: “She is a dedicated and determined public servant. 

“She will be challenged to help me continue to embed the 3Cs of Compassion, Co-operation and Community in the delivery of our projects and to help improve the lives of everyone in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.”  

Ms Milner is not unfamiliar with how both public and private sectors work. 

Her publications include ‘Managing Information and Knowledge in the Public Sector’ and ‘Lessons in Leadership – the challenge of public service.’