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 MinisterGordon Brown
Preceded byAngela Eagle
Succeeded bySarah McCarthy-Fry
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions
In office
5 October 2008 – 9 June 2009
Prime MinisterGordon Brown
Preceded byJames Plaskitt
Succeeded byHelen Goodman
Economic Secretary to the Treasury
In office
29 June 2007 – 5 October 2008
Prime MinisterGordon Brown
Preceded byEd Balls
Succeeded byIan Pearson
Member of Parliament
for Burnley
In office
6 May 2005 – 12 April 2010
Preceded byPeter Pike
Succeeded byGordon Birtwistle
Personal details
Katharine Anne Ussher

(1971-03-18) 18 March 1971 (age 48)
Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, England
Political partyLabour
Spouse(s)Peter J Colley
Children1 son, 1 daughter
Alma materBalliol 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 Chief Economist at Demos think tank[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 a niece of the former Conservative cabinet minister Virginia Bottomley, and a 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.

Early career[edit]

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.

From 1998 to 2002 she also served as a councillor for Vassall ward in the London Borough of Lambeth, where she chaired the Council's finance and environment scrutiny committees. From 2001, until her selection as a parliamentary candidate in February 2004, she was special adviser to Patricia Hewitt at the Department of Trade and Industry.

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 constituency's Labour candidate.[6] From 2005 to 2006, she was a member of the Public Accounts Committee. She was Parliamentary Private Secretary to Margaret Hodge, 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 Tripartite 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 period 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 made London her permanent home in April 2009, moving to Brixton, so she could send her children to school in Westminster.[8]

In the June 2009 reshuffle she was moved back to the Treasury, 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]

Ussher resigned her ministerial position on 17 June 2009, 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.[9] She also announced she would step down in the forthcoming election, citing family reasons, rather than the fresh expenses revelations.[10]

In her resignation letter Ussher said that she had done nothing wrong,[11] 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."[12]

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

Later career[edit]

In May 2010, after leaving Parliament, Ussher became the new Director of Demos until 2012. She then became a research fellow of the Smith Institute,[14] an associate at the Centre for London, a member of TheCityUK's Independent Economists' Panel, and a co founder of Labour in the City.

In December 2013, she became Managing Director of Tooley Street Research, and economic and policy adviser to Portland Communications.[15][16] She has also written pamphlets for the Fabian Society, the 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. She joined the inaugural cohort of Now Teach, a scheme to encourage older professionals to switch careers into teaching, in September 2017.[17]

Personal life[edit]

She married accountant Peter J Colley in September 1999 in Hammersmith;[5] they have one daughter (born 7 June 2005)[18] and a son (born 3 January 2008).[19]


  • 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


  1. ^ "Kitty Ussher". Demos. Retrieved 20 November 2019.
  2. ^ "Planning a life after Westminster". BBC News. 4 May 2010. Retrieved 7 May 2010.
  3. ^ "Why I'm putting my family before Parliament | News". Archived from the original on 27 June 2009. Retrieved 8 June 2010.
  4. ^ Ussher, Kitty (15 July 2014). "Cabinet reshuffle: Parenting in Parliament is tough for women (And I should know)".
  5. ^ a b "She fought for the euro; now one of Brown's stars will be the City's champion". EMAG/The Times. 9 July 2007. Retrieved 18 June 2009.
  6. ^[permanent dead link]
  7. ^ Waller, Martin (7 October 2008). "Smalltown America counters the credit crunch". The Times. London. Retrieved 7 May 2010.
  8. ^ "Burnley MP to move family to London". 2 April 2009. Retrieved 7 March 2017.
  9. ^ "Minister quits over her expenses". BBC News. 18 June 2009. Retrieved 18 June 2008.
  10. ^ "Kitty Ussher to step down as Burnley MP at next election". 17 June 2009. Retrieved 7 March 2017.
  11. ^ "MPs' expenses: Kitty Ussher's resignation letter". The Daily Telegraph. London. 17 June 2009. Retrieved 7 May 2010.
  12. ^ "Reflections on a resignation". 18 June 2013. Archived from the original on 27 June 2013. Retrieved 8 October 2013.
  13. ^ "MPs to escape prosecution over expenses scandal as police say charges are 'highly unlikely'". Daily Mail. 5 June 2009. Retrieved 5 June 2009.
  14. ^ "Smith Institute People". Smith Institute. 21 June 2012. Retrieved 10 December 2016.
  15. ^ "Our team: Kitty Ussher". Tooley Street Research. Retrieved 10 December 2016.
  16. ^ John Owens (6 March 2013). "Portland hires former Treasury minister Kitty Ussher". PR Week. Retrieved 10 December 2016.
  17. ^ Kellaway, Lucy (1 September 2017). "Lucy Kellaway: why we went back to school". Financial Times. Retrieved 21 October 2017.
  18. ^ "Burnley & Pendle Citizen – the local newspaper for our community – Kitty's Baby". 8 June 2005. Retrieved 8 June 2010.[permanent dead link]
  19. ^ "Burnley & Pendle Citizen – the local newspaper for our community – Kitty celebrates birth of second child". 4 January 2008. Retrieved 8 June 2010.[permanent dead link]

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