Kitty Ussher

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Kitty Ussher
Kitty ussher at election count in burnley 2009.JPG
Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury
In office
9 June 2009 – 17 June 2009
Prime Minister Gordon Brown
Preceded by Angela Eagle
Succeeded by Sarah McCarthy-Fry
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions
In office
5 October 2008 – 9 June 2009
Prime Minister Gordon Brown
Preceded by James Plaskitt
Succeeded by Helen Goodman
Economic Secretary to the Treasury
In office
29 June 2007 – 5 October 2008
Prime Minister Gordon Brown
Preceded by Ed Balls
Succeeded by Ian Pearson
Member of Parliament
for Burnley
In office
6 May 2005 – 12 April 2010
Preceded by Peter Pike
Succeeded by Gordon Birtwistle
Personal details
Born (1971-03-18) 18 March 1971 (age 45)
Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, England
Nationality British
Political party Labour
Spouse(s) Peter J Colley
Children 1 son, 1 daughter
Alma mater Balliol College, Oxford, Birkbeck, University of London

Katharine Anne Ussher (born 18 March 1971) is a British economist and former Labour Party politician who is now Managing Director of Tooley Street Research. She is also a member of the Financial Services Consumer Panel, Chief Economic Adviser for Portland, a member of TheCityUK's Independent Economists' Panel and has associate arrangements with a number of London-based think-tanks.[1]

After training as an economist, she was elected Member of Parliament (MP) for Burnley at the 2005 general election, succeeding Peter Pike. She served as a minister in Gordon Brown's Government from 2007 to 2009, mainly at the Treasury but also at the Department for Work and Pensions. She did not stand at the 2010 election, citing the desire for a more normal family life while her children were young.[2][3][4]


Ussher is the daughter of an Anglo-Irish lawyer father, and a headmistress mother whose brother is Peter Bottomley.[5] Consequently, she is the niece of the former Conservative cabinet minister Virginia Bottomley, and the granddaughter of the diplomat Sir James Bottomley. She is also distantly descended from the family of Archbishop James Ussher. Ussher was educated on a free place at the independent St Paul's Girls' School; she subsequently attended Balliol College, Oxford, where she read PPE, and Birkbeck College, London, where she took a MSc in Economics.


In her early career she was chief economist for Britain in Europe and an economist at the Economist Intelligence Unit and the Centre for European Reform, as well as working for MPs Paul Boateng, Martin O'Neill, Kim Howells and Adam Ingram. She also served as a councillor in the London Borough of Lambeth for Vassall ward from 1998 to 2002, where she chaired the finance and environment scrutiny committees. From 2001 until her selection as a parliamentary candidate in 2004, she was special adviser to Patricia Hewitt at the Department of Trade and Industry. In 2010, after leaving Parliament, Ussher became the new Director of Demos until 2012. She then became a fellow of the Smith Institute, an associate at the Centre for London, a member of The City UK's Independent Economists' Panel and a co-founder of Labour in the City. In 2013 she became Managing Director of Tooley Street Research, and economic and policy adviser to Portland. She has also written pamphlets for the Fabian Society, Social Market Foundation and Policy Network. In February 2015 she joined the Financial Services Consumer Panel, a scrutiny panel for the Financial Conduct Authority regulator.

Parliamentary career[edit]

Ussher was elected as the member of Parliament for Burnley at the 2005 general election, having been selected through an All-Women Shortlist as the Labour candidate for the constituency.[6] From 2005 to 2006 she was a member of the Public Accounts Committee. She was Parliamentary Private Secretary to Margaret Hodge MBE, the Minister of State at the Department of Trade and Industry, until 29 June 2007.

In Gordon Brown's first reshuffle she was appointed as Economic Secretary to the Treasury, succeeding Ed Balls. The timing of her appointment, as the first signs of the credit crunch appeared, meant that she was party to crucial meetings of the Tripartate Committee of Treasury, FSA and the Bank of England as the authorities dealt with the collapse of Northern Rock, the subsequent financial crisis and its legislative response.

Her time in office also saw a review of the policy towards co-operatives and credit unions, to give them greater commercial freedom and ability to expand. She also developed the policy leading to the Dormant Bank and Building Society Accounts Act 2008 that redistributes unclaimed banking assets to community use, and the Savings Gateway Act 2009 that provides financial incentives to poorer people to save.

On 5 October 2008 she moved to become Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department for Work and Pensions, taking on broad welfare reform responsibilities previously undertaken by Stephen Timms and James Plaskitt. At the time of the reshuffle she was described by Martin Waller, city diarist of The Times, as "one of the brighter denizens of the lower depths of the Brown administration" who had "made herself popular enough in the City".[7] She became responsible for the government's review of housing benefit policy and a review of the social fund, as well as the Child Support Agency and welfare policy on lone parents.

Ussher was moved back to the Treasury in the June 2009 reshuffle, this time becoming Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, but ten days later resigned to prevent embarrassment to the government regarding her tax position, and was replaced by Sarah McCarthy-Fry, the MP for Portsmouth North.

Expenses controversy[edit]

On 17 June 2009 Ussher resigned her ministerial position, citing a desire to "prevent embarrassment to the government" after allegations that she changed the designation of her "main" home for capital gains tax purposes to reduce her tax bill.[8] In her resignation letter, Ussher said that she had done nothing wrong,[9] but four years later in an article on her blog she said she had nevertheless voluntarily paid the £3,420 in question to HM Revenue and Customs, stating that "Public servants should always be at pains to ensure that they are not only compliant with the letter of the law but also with the spirit of it, and I did not focus on that."[10] On 5 June 2009, Scotland Yard and the Crown Prosecution Service issued a statement stating that the occurrence of 'flipping' second homes to avoid paying capital gains tax was not a matter for police investigation.[11]

After she stood down at the 2010 election, Labour lost Ussher's constituency of Burnley to the Liberal Democrats.

Personal life[edit]

She married accountant Peter J Colley in September 1999 in Hammersmith;[5] they have one daughter (born 7 June 2005)[12] and a son (born 3 January 2008).[13]


  • Labour's Record on the Economy. The Political Quarterly, 2010
  • City Limits: The progressive case for financial services reform. Demos, 2011
  • Good Growth: A Demos and PWC report on economic wellbeing. Demos, 2011
  • Wealth of our nation: rethinking policies for wealth distribution. The Smith Institute, 2014
  • Pay progression: Understanding the barriers for the lowest paid. Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, 2014


External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Peter Pike
Member of Parliament for Burnley
Succeeded by
Gordon Birtwistle
Political offices
Preceded by
Ed Balls
Economic Secretary to the Treasury
Succeeded by
Ian Pearson
Preceded by
James Plaskitt
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Pensions Reform
Succeeded by
Helen Goodman
Preceded by
Angela Eagle
Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury
Succeeded by
Sarah McCarthy-Fry