Whitehall must do more to promote UK, says Cahn

 

Key parts of the Civil Service are not up to the job of getting the inward investment needed to help Britain out of recession, the former head of UK Trade and Investment has warned.

In his first public comments since leaving UKTI, Andrew Cahn warned that outside the Foreign Office few government departments understand the importance of promoting Britain as a place to do business. He called on the Civil Service to take a more entrepreneurial approach toward making decisions and growing the economy.

"We need the whole of Whitehall to push in the same direction, and at the moment I don't think they do," he told The Independent. "The Foreign Office really has changed and is focused and rather effective on promoting inward investment. But in all sorts of other departments it has no sort of priority at all."

Mr Cahn, who ran UKTI for five years before stepping down at the end of last year, cited several government departments which, he said, could do more to encourage investment. "If you talk to the Department of Health they are simply not interested in pharmaceutical exports as an issue. You might say of course it's not high up their radar screen. But the fact is if you want to make sure that the big pharmaceutical companies are in this country, you need the Department of Health to play a role.

"You need Defra to be focused on food companies. You need the Department of Transport to be focused on transport companies. You need the Decc to be focused on energy companies. There is real scope for the whole of Whitehall to be focused on export promotion in a way that they certainly haven't done in the last five years."

Mr Cahn made his comments ahead of presenting a paper on Civil Service reform today at the Institute for Government. In the paper he calls for the Civil Service to take a more entrepreneurial approach towards decision-making. "Whitehall does not have a coherent approach to innovation and risk ... Ministers on the whole are understandably reluctant to see their civil servants expose them to the risk of failure with a new, untried idea. But clearly ministers do want civil servants to show more energy, more innovation and ideas. You cannot have great success without a leaven of failure."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
The two faces revealed by the ultraviolet light
newsScholars left shaken after shining ultraviolet light on 500-year-old Welsh manuscript
News
Rosamund Pike played Bond girld Miranda Frost, who died in Die Another Day (PA)
news
Arts and Entertainment
books
News
newsHow do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? With people like this
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager - B2B, Corporate - City, London

£45000 - £50000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Neil Pavier: Commercial Analyst

£50,000 - £55,000: Neil Pavier: Are you a professionally qualified commercial ...

Loren Hughes: Financial Accountant

£45,000 - £55,000: Loren Hughes: Are you looking for a new opportunity that wi...

Sheridan Maine: Finance Analyst

Circa £45,000-£50,000 + benefits: Sheridan Maine: Are you a newly qualified ac...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
11 best bedside tables

11 best bedside tables

It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

Italy vs England player ratings

Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

An underdog's tale of making the most of it

Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat