Michael Bichard, Baron Bichard

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Michael George Bichard, Baron Bichard, KCB, (born 31 January 1947) is a former public servant in the United Kingdom, first in local and then as a civil servant in central government. He was Director of the Institute for Government, currently serves as one of its first 'fellows' and was Chair of the Design Council. He was a created a life peer on 24 March 2010. He is an advisor to Ten Group in its professional support services division which comprises the support service for school leaders (The Key) and the support service for school governors (Ten Governor Support). He became Chair of the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) in 2013.

Career[edit]

Bichard served as the Chief Executive of Brent Council between 1980 and 1986, and then of Gloucestershire County Council between 1986 and 1990.

In 1990, he was appointed Chief Executive of the Benefits Agency.

In 1995, Bichard was made Permanent Secretary of the Department for Employment. When it merged with the Department for Education (DfE) to form the Department for Education and Employment (DfEE), he became Permanent Secretary of the combined department, under Gillian Shephard, and then, post-1997, David Blunkett. He became extremely close to Blunkett, even at one point intervening personally – according to the Daily Mail – to ensure that details of an affair that Blunkett was conducting with his Private Secretary should not become public.[1] During his time as Permanent Secretary, he introduced several modernising reforms to the Department, notably in bringing its use of information technology and new media up to date. He oversaw some significant changes to the education policy landscape, such as the introduction of the Learning and Skills Council to fund further education and apprenticeships.

In May 2001 he retired from the Civil Service, when DfEE and the Department for Social Security were split into the Department for Education and Skills and Department for Work and Pensions.

He became Chair of the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) in 2013.

Post-retirement[edit]

In September 2001 Bichard was appointed Rector of The University of the Arts London and also served as Chairman of the Design Council.

In 2004, the Home Secretary David Blunkett (previously Bichard's minister as Secretary of State for Education and Employment) appointed Bichard to chair an inquiry into the "Soham murders" of two 10-year-old girls; the inquiry has since been known as the "Bichard Inquiry".

He was non-Executive Chairman of RSe Consulting from 2003–2008. RSe Consulting provided strategic and management consulting services to local government and became part of Tribal Group Plc in 2008.

Bichard was appointed Chairman of the Legal Services Commission in April 2005. There he introduced a range of reforming measures aimed at modernising the legal aid system. He was also chairman of the educational charity Rathbone.

Bichard left these two roles in September 2008 when he became the Director of the Institute for Government, a post he passed on to Andrew Adonis in 2010, when Bichard became a part time fellow.

Bichard is now Chairman of the Board of FILMCLUB, a nationwide after-school film club scheme which is free to state primary and secondary schools.[2]

He has been an advisor to Ten Group, the lifestyle concierge and professional support services company, since 2010, supporting the development of its school leader and school governor support services – The Key and Ten Governor Support.

Bichard came in for criticism in October 2012 when he suggested that retired people should contribute to society by doing community work in order to help the state or lose their pension. Robert Oxley of the Tax Payers Alliance said "it's a bit rich from a civil servant who was able to retire early to lecture us on working during retirement".[3]

He became Chair of the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) in 2013.

Honours and peerage[edit]

Bichard was appointed as a knight in the Order of the Bath in the Queen's Birthday Honours in 1999.[4] On the recommendation of the House of Lords Appointments Commission, he was created life peer 24 March 2010,[5] as Baron Bichard, of Nailsworth in the County of Gloucestershire.[6] He was introduced in the House of Lords on 29 March,[7] where he sits on the crossbenches.

Offices held[edit]

Government offices
Preceded by
Vincent Scroggins
Chief Executive of the Benefits Agency,
Department for Employment

1990–1995
Succeeded by
Peter Mathison
Preceded by
Sir Nicholas Monck
Permanent Secretary of the
Department for Employment

1995
Succeeded by
Himself
as Permanent Secretary of the
Department for Education and Employment
Preceded by
Himself
as Permanent Secretary of the
Department for Employment
Permanent Secretary of the
Department for Education and Employment

1995–2001
Succeeded by
Sir David Normington
as Permanent Secretary of the
Department for Education and Skills
Preceded by
Sir Timothy Lankester
as Permanent Secretary of the
Department for Education
Succeeded by
Rachel Lomax
as Permanent Secretary of the
Department for Work and Pensions

References[edit]

  1. ^ Walters, Simon; Bevan, Stephen (5 December 2004). "Second mistress threat to Blunkett". Daily Mail (London). 
  2. ^ Guardian Society announcement
  3. ^ Hall, Macer (25 October 2012). "OAPs told, work or lose pension". Daily Express. 
  4. ^ BBC News (12 June 1999). "Queen's Birthday Honours: Order of the Bath". Retrieved 6 February 2010. 
  5. ^ New Peers since 1 January 2010
  6. ^ The London Gazette: no. 59377. p. 5439. 29 March 2010.
  7. ^ House of Lords – Minute

External links[edit]