Financial News

  • 6 February 2014, 0:04

Grid CEO Holliday Takes Business Charity Role

The chief executive of National Grid is to take a leading role at the charity Business in the Community (BITC) even as the energy sector contends with a political backlash over rising prices.

Sky News understands that Steve Holliday will be named as deputy chairman of BITC when the organisation holds its annual meeting in London on Thursday.

Mr Holliday, who also sits on the board of Marks & Spencer, will work alongside Antony Jenkins, chief executive of Barclays, who is due to become the charity's chairman next year.

The National Grid chief's arrival will cement work he has previously undertaken with BIT , and will come as business leaders wrestle with intensifying attacks on the integrity of the industries in which they work.

As an energy distributor, National Grid has remained largely outside the scope of criticism targeted at gas and electricity retailers such as Centrica and Npower.

However, rows over energy provision, payday lending and fraud involving public sector outsourcers have deepened a sense of mistrust which Ed Miliband, the Labour leader, has attempted to exploit.

Mark Price, the Waitrose managing director who is BITC's current chairman, will use Thursday's conference to call on corporate Britain to fulfil its side of a "contract" with government.

"Government's role is to create the conditions for companies to be successful. This is the only way for an economy and a society to flourish over the long term," he will say.

"How else will the NHS, our education system, emergency services, social services and our defence be paid for unless there is a thriving economy with businesses paying corporation and other taxes and employing people who then also pay tax?

"Be under no illusion, it is only the business sector that can continue the rebuilding of the economy, not the other way around.

"The Government is doing a great deal to fulfil its side of the contract and in return companies must bear a heavy responsibility for the communities they serve."

Mr Price will say that by engaging in social issues, companies can deliver wider benefits for taxpayers.

"There is a virtuous circle of partnership between good business and the wider society; and between government and business, because if good business thrives then the country thrives.

BitC is the largest business-led charity of its kind in the UK, engaging in a broad range of education and training projects aimed at deepening companies' commitment to corporate social responsibility.

It has 850 members, who collectively employ more than 16m people, according to its website.

Among its initiatives are Ban the Box, which encourages companies to give job applicants a second chance by not asking about previous criminal convictions; and Workwell, a programme focused on improving understanding of workplace health.

The charity is also expected to propose on Thursday that company bosses should incentivise responsible behaviour in the same way that they reward financial performance.

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