22 September 1947 |
Born in Cheshire, Lea attended Lymm Grammar School before going up to the University of York (BA) and postgraduate studies at the University of Bristol (MSc). She studied at the London School of Economics in 1973. She served almost 16 years in the British Civil Service, working in HM Treasury, the Department of Trade and Industry, the Central Statistical Office and at the Civil Service College, before becoming a Lecturer at Thames Polytechnic (now Greenwich University).
In 1988, she joined Mitsubishi Bank in the City rising to Chief Economist and became a regular television and radio commentator on economic matters. She was UK Economist at Lehman Brothers for one year until 1995, before her appointment as ITN's Economics Editor, and subsequently Head of the Policy Unit at the Institute of Directors, a post she held from 1995–2003. She was famously "made redundant" from the IoD, reputedly following pressure exerted by the Labour Government regarding her robustly expressed concerns over New Labour economic policy; she was Director of the Centre for Policy Studies from 2004–07 and Director of Global Vision from 2007–10.
Lea is a prolific writer on economic and business issues. A vocal critic of Gordon Brown’s economic policies, arguing that Labour's “big state” profligacy undermined both UK public finances and economic competitiveness. Deeply concerned about Britain’s high cost and fragile energy policies, she argues they damage business competitiveness and suggests Britain’s trust in climate change policies is unlikely to have little impact on global carbon dioxide emissions given that the UK accounts for only 1½% of the global total.
A robust and consistent opponent of UK membership of the Euro on economic grounds,  Lea advocates a reformed relationship between the EU and Britain, proposing, as necessary, renegotiated EU membership terms similar to a Swiss-style agreement with Europe; qv. European Free Trade Association.
Having served on the Councils of London University and the Royal Economic Society, the National Consumer Council, the Nurses' Pay Review Body, the Office for National Statistics Advisory Committee, the Economic and Social Research Priorities Board, the Retail Prices Advisory Committee and the Institute of Economic Affairs Shadow Monetary Policy Committee, she has served as a judge for several national achievement awards, was a Governor of the London School of Economics and has been awarded honorary doctorates by the University of Greenwich, BPP University College and the University of Chester (Hon DBAs).
Lea is currently Economic Adviser to the Arbuthnot Banking Group and non-executive director since 2005. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and of the Royal Statistical Society, and has been admitted a Freeman of the City of London as well as a Liveryman of the Curriers' Company, and was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2015 New Year Honours List for "services to the financial and economic sectors".
- "Ruth Jane Lea". web.archive.org. Archived from the original on 5 June 2008. Retrieved 3 March 2010.
- Ruth Lea, “The profligate Chancellor: prudent no more”, Centre for Policy Studies, March 2004.
- Ruth Lea, “Tax ‘n’ spend: no way to run an economy”, Centre for Policy Studies, July 2004.
- Ruth Lea, “The lack of reliable and affordable energy supplies could seriously damage British manufacturing”, Arbuthnot Banking Group Perspective, 20 July 2009.
- Ruth Lea, “Britain’s high energy prices: the folly of wind-power”, Arbuthnot Banking Group Perspective, 17 October 2011.
- Ruth Lea and Brian Binley MP, “Britain and Europe: a new relationship”, Global Vision, 2012.
- Arbuthnot Banking Group website
- The London Gazette: . 31 December 2014.
- 2015 New Year Honours List