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UBM chairman to retire

John Botts made huge contribution to the company.

The British live media and business-to-business communications provider UBM has announced that its chairman John Botts will retire from the company following the annual general meeting to be held on 11 May 2012.

Dame Helen Alexander, who joined the company in 1985, will succeed Botts as chairman at the conclusion of the meeting and will also join the company’s board as a non-executive director on 10 May 2012.

Alexander is chairman of the Port of London Authority, Incisive Media and deputy chairman of esure Group Holdings, a non-executive director at Rolls-Royce Group, and senior adviser to Bain Capital. 

During 2009-11 Alexander was president of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), and chief executive of the Economist Group until 2008. She is also chancellor of the University of Southampton.

From 1993 to 1997, Alexander was managing director of the Economist Intelligence Unit. She was also a non-executive director of Centrica PLC from 2003 to 2011.

Alexander said: “I am delighted to join the Board of UBM plc and I look forward to working closely with the Board, and with David Levin and his executive management team to continue the development of UBM.”

Botts, retiring chairman of UBM, said: "Dame Helen most certainly brings both a broad business background and particular experience of the business media sector which will serve UBM’s board and shareholders well. I am delighted that she has agreed to become chairman."

David Levin, CEO of UBM, said: “I am delighted to welcome Dame Helen to the UBM Board as John Botts’ successor as chairman. Dame Helen has deep and rich business, media and content experience and expertise, and I look forward to working closely with her as we continue to build UBM.

"On behalf of the board I would like to thank John Botts for the huge contribution he has made to UBM over the course of more than a decade as director and over the last five years as our chairman.  I am fortunate to have worked alongside John since I joined UBM in 2005 and I would like to thank him personally for both his valued support and wise counsel offered throughout that period, and for his energy and commitment in representing UBM around the world. We all wish him the very best for the future."

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Is anyone prepared to solve the NHS funding crisis?

As long as the political taboo on raising taxes endures, the service will be in financial peril. 

It has long been clear that the NHS is in financial ill-health. But today's figures, conveniently delayed until after the Conservative conference, are still stunningly bad. The service ran a deficit of £930m between April and June (greater than the £820m recorded for the whole of the 2014/15 financial year) and is on course for a shortfall of at least £2bn this year - its worst position for a generation. 

Though often described as having been shielded from austerity, owing to its ring-fenced budget, the NHS is enduring the toughest spending settlement in its history. Since 1950, health spending has grown at an average annual rate of 4 per cent, but over the last parliament it rose by just 0.5 per cent. An ageing population, rising treatment costs and the social care crisis all mean that the NHS has to run merely to stand still. The Tories have pledged to provide £10bn more for the service but this still leaves £20bn of efficiency savings required. 

Speculation is now turning to whether George Osborne will provide an emergency injection of funds in the Autumn Statement on 25 November. But the long-term question is whether anyone is prepared to offer a sustainable solution to the crisis. Health experts argue that only a rise in general taxation (income tax, VAT, national insurance), patient charges or a hypothecated "health tax" will secure the future of a universal, high-quality service. But the political taboo against increasing taxes on all but the richest means no politician has ventured into this territory. Shadow health secretary Heidi Alexander has today called for the government to "find money urgently to get through the coming winter months". But the bigger question is whether, under Jeremy Corbyn, Labour is prepared to go beyond sticking-plaster solutions. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.