Steerpike Steerpike

Cake tsar’s pay takes the biscuit


You probably hadn’t heard of Susan Jebb until today. For 18 months she has served in happy obscurity as the head of the Food Standards Agency. Until, that is, she decided to give an interview in which she suggested bringing cake into the office should be seen as harmful to your colleagues in the same way as passive smoking. She told the Times:

We all like to think we’re rational, intelligent, educated people who make informed choices the whole time and we undervalue the impact of the environment. If nobody brought in cakes into the office, I would not eat cakes in the day, but because people do bring cakes in, I eat them. Now, OK, I have made a choice, but people were making a choice to go into a smoky pub.

Clearly Jebb prefers a diet of food in mouth. Steerpike has discovered that she is enjoying handsome remuneration for nannying the nation’s cake-munchers. Research by the Taxpayers’ Alliance has found that Jebb is receiving a whopping £70,000 for her part-time job, collecting twice the average UK salary for just 2.5-3 days a week.

That’s the equivalent of an annualised remuneration of between £116,667 and £140,000. Jebb has been in post since July 2021 and is due to serve three years until July 2024: a total cost of £210,000. Not bad work if you can get it!

Elliot Keck, investigation campaigns manager at the TaxPayers’ Alliance, told Mr S:

Professor Susan Jebb’s comments really take the biscuit. The FSA exists to ensure the safety of our food, not to act as a platform for nanny state lectures. Ministers should remind the quango to focus on their core responsibilities.

Let’s hope a ministerial re-torte swiftly follows.

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Steerpike is The Spectator's gossip columnist, serving up the latest tittle tattle from Westminster and beyond. Email tips to or message @MrSteerpike

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