Civil Service World

Helping civil service leaders understand their working environment

For more than a decade, Civil Service World has worked to keep civil servants informed about what’s happening across government: the people, agendas, policies and reforms that – for good or ill – affect the working life of civil service leaders.

As the only independent professional publication available to every senior official in the UK, our monthly print title is built on authoritative, high-quality journalism, from exclusive interviews with leading officials to detailed opinion and analysis pieces that take an in-depth look at the issues that really matter to public servants.

Our website is the go-to source for up-to-date, informed and independent news coverage of the civil service. Our free breaking news alerts and daily email bulletin are read right across Whitehall, and keep our readers on top of the stories that affect their working lives.

Civil Service World offers free daily bulletins of the latest independent civil service news, opinion and analysis, and breaking news alerts for those can't-miss stories. Sign up and stay up-to-date with your working world.

To discover how your organisation can partner with CivilServiceWorld to engage with senior civil servants across the UK, download the CivilServiceWorld Media Pack 2019 here.

Civil Service World News

The year ahead: time for the government to get serious on population health in 2020

1 day 20 hours ago
Opinion

In our January issue, CSW asks experts to give their thoughts on the new government’s policy priorities. In this entry, Jon Rouse explores the impetus to expand public health initiatives in 2020

A person smoking a cigaretteif (typeof _gaq != 'undefined') _gaq.push(['_trackEvent', 'Image', 'Impression', 'smoking', 1, true]);

Photo: PA

Population health will matter to this government for one very good reason. Poor population health costs the state and the national economy big time. It is a key barrier to economic development and labour productivity across what is now a crucial swathe of England in political terms. It is the main reason why people drop out of the workforce and many of those never come back in. The impact of early morbidity leads to a loss of social contribution and an expensive dependency on state services, not least the NHS itself.

Population health is an area that is ripe for further devolution. Over the last four years, Greater Manchester has shown how this can be done. We have moved NHS resources upstream into preventative programmes and we have ensured that wider public policy is focused on promoting better health. As a result, we have rapidly declining smoking rates, increased physical activity levels for children and adults, improved mental health access, stronger early years outcomes and more people with poor health getting back into work. And over that period, we have also delivered a cumulative surplus on NHS budgets of £440m.

RELATED CONTENT

The emphasis is going to be on the state as enabler. The role of central and local government will be to create the conditions in which people have a better chance to make better choices and reap the rewards of doing so, where space is given for schools, businesses, sports clubs, faith organisations and many others to contribute. Think Parkrun, Daily Mile, Men in Sheds, This Girl Can or Place2Be. This will be a period where population health will be defined by  a complex and dynamic network of digitally-enabled and socially motivated organisations and wider movements for change.

The key test of any population health policy or programme is whether it can reach those that need it most. In Greater Manchester, we have deliberately bent the shape of some of our programmes to target areas of relative deprivation.  They are about making people an offer to get the help that will ultimately enable them to get on in life; public and private capital combining to create human capital. These models don’t come for free; they need significant and deliberate investment in the capacity of the community, voluntary and social enterprise sectors, but the dividend is real and sustained.

Finally, there are of course limits to this philosophy. If you are in poverty and without essential security, then however dense the local network of opportunities available to improve health, there may not be the ability to engage. The fundamental safety net has to be secure to create the conditions in which everyone has a chance to thrive. And that may turn out to be the biggest population health challenge over the next few years. 

Author Display Name Jon Rouse Tags Health Leadership & Management Policymaking Categories Government and politics Health and social care About the author

Jon Rouse is the chief officer of the Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership, and previously worked in the Department of Health as director general for social care

Image description PA Twitter Link

Read more on:

Facebook 

Twitter 

Website

 

Share this page Editor's Pick Promote as primary content Not Promoted
Richard Johnstone

Home Office launches hunt for new Migration Advisory Committee chief

1 day 20 hours ago
News

Home Office puts applicants on notice that highly-influential panel's role “may evolve” post-Brexit

A head-and-shoulders image of home secretary Priti Patel speaking at the Conservative party conference 2019if (typeof _gaq != 'undefined') _gaq.push(['_trackEvent', 'Image', 'Impression', 'Priti Patel speaking at Conservative conference 2019', 1, true]);

Home secretary Priti Patel Credit: PA

The Home Office has launched a recruitment campaign to find a successor to Migration Advisory Committee chair Prof Alan Manning and is offering £40,000 a year for the two-days-a-week role.

London School of Economics labour expert Prof Manning had been due to end his three-year term chairing the committee in October, however his tenure was extended by home secretary Priti Patel until the end of this month.

The move followed commissions for Brexit-related reviews of immigration policy. In June last year then home secretary Sajid Javid asked MAC to look at the case for regional earnings thresholds for UK work visas and the potential for offering visas for “high public value” jobs that pay less than £30,000. His successor as home secretary Patel subsequently requested that the review be expanded to look at options for an Australian-style points-based visa system. 

RELATED CONTENT

In September, Manning cautioned that the timescale for the expanded review was short for a “substantial piece of work on an important issue”. In November, he announced he had agreed to stay on as MAC chair for an extra three months “to complete work on the current commission”. 

He added: “This will provide continuity until our report is published.”

The recruitment pack for Manning’s successor sets a deadline for applicants of 17 Februrary, but suggests a final appointment is not likely to be confirmed internally until early April.

In the document Glyn Williams, director general of borders, immigration, citizenship system, policy and international at the Home Office, said the MAC had established a world-class reputation for the quality of its advice since it was established in 2007.

But he hinted that the next chair would be likely to hand over a different MAC to their successor at the end of their three-year term. 

“The precise role of the MAC may evolve but it will remain absolutely central to policy-making in this area,” he said.

“We are about to enter an exciting new chapter in migration policy with the end of EU free movement following the UK’s departure from the EU and the introduction of an Australian-style points-based system. 

“We are looking for a high calibre person to lead the MAC through this next phase.”

The Home Office told Civil Service World that the MAC report was scheduled for publication before Manning's extended term of office finished. 

This story was updated at 16:50 on 17 January 2020 to include additional information from the Home Office

Tags Brexit International Affairs & Security Policymaking Categories Business and industry Defence and Security Government and politics International Relations Public order, justice and rights Image description PA Twitter Link

Read more on:

Facebook 

Twitter 

Website

 

Share this page Editor's Pick Promote as primary content Not Promoted
Jim.Dunton

CMA staff get average 4% pay increase through Cabinet Office pilot

1 day 20 hours ago
News

Agreement in line with ‘commitment to affording meaningful pay awards for staff, particularly colleagues at the lower end of the pay range’ says agency

Money - pound notesif (typeof _gaq != 'undefined') _gaq.push(['_trackEvent', 'Image', 'Impression', 'Money - pound notes', 1, true]);

CMA chief Andrea Coscelli Photo Louise Haywood-Schiefer

Officials working in the Competition and Markets Authority are to receive an average pay increase of 4% after the non-ministerial department was able to go above the 2% increase set out in Treasury pay guidance for 2019-20.

The higher increase is available to the department through a Cabinet Office paybill control pilot that allows departments and agencies to set higher increases.

The CMA agreement will see staff at the bottom of pay ranges will receive close to 5%, while those at the top will receive an above-inflation rise of 2.2%, according to FDA national officer Steven Littlewood.

RELATED CONTENT

Littlewood told CSW that the CMA has relied on paying external hires increased starting salaries to address recruitment issues, which had “created a revolving door culture of high turnover”.

He added: “This deal will enable the CMA to recruit new staff while also rewarding loyal staff and retaining their expertise so it’s a win-win.

“This is only the beginning of fixing some of the problems caused by pay freezes and a lack of pay progression, but we look forward to working with the CMA in future years to carry on the good work.”

The paybill control pilot scheme was launched as part of Autumn Statement 2013 when a small number of government organisations were allowed flexibility from the central pay rules. Acceptance into the scheme is separate from the process of submitting a business case for pay flexibility to the Treasury, which is the mechanism through which the Cabinet Office and the Department for Exiting the European Union have agreed increases above 2%.

Under the pilot, departments apply to the Cabinet Office to agreeing a control total for the amount that the department can spend on their total pay bill, rather than applying the centrally-mandated pay guidance. The CMA has been involved in the pay bill control system for three years, having made the case that it needed to pay higher salaries to recruit the staff it needed, Littlewood said.

“The justification for getting on the pilot was that they need to pay higher salaries. The only way they could do previously was through the flexible starting pay that they paid to new hires, but that was creating resentment with existing staff, as the answer was to leave and then come back again, there was a revolving door and a lot of retention problems. So they've recognised that and that's part of the reason why they were able to get onto the pilot and lift the lift the pay ranges.

“The CMA applied to take part in that to the Cabinet Office, they got permission for it, and then we had a negotiation around how the extra money can spend should actually be allocated,” Littlewood said. “That's why the rates are so much higher than other pay awards.”

PCS industrial officer Tony Walsh added: "We welcome the progress made with the CMA in a number of areas including the significant amount of money in the offer on base pay compared with last year, increases in the minima at each grade, an underpinning minimum of £600 and a focus on progression through the pay ranges through increased quartile progression.

"We recognise that negotiations this year were conducted in a meaningful and constructive manner recognising the advances made last year and that more needed to be done to maintain that progress.

PCS also welcome that CMA did move on some specific issues in the light of arguments put forward by staff representatives.  In particular in relation to negotiating on the differential between PRP payments for Partially Exceeding and Consistently Exceeding and the provision of an Organisational Award for all staff of £150. These made staff feel that their concerns were being listened to and was a significant boost to their wellbeing."

CMA human resources director Victoria Tricarico told Civil Service World that it “is in a particularly challenging market for competition experts and we need to recruit and retain staff particularly as we prepare for Brexit”.

She added: “The pay increases that we have agreed under this scheme are in line with our commitment to affording meaningful pay awards for staff, particularly colleagues at the lower end of the pay range.”

As well as pay rise, the deal included a £150 in-year non-consolidated bonus for all staff, said Littlewood, who said that the flexibilities offered through the pilot should be more widely available.

“We think that this will help to retain staff and they should be rolled out wider across other agencies and other departments. At the moment, [departments are] still a bit constrained because you either have to make a business case or go on the pilot, but I think the pilot will show that this works [to improve retention], so it should be rolled out more widely. Every department should have greater autonomy in managing their reward and renumeration.”

Tags HR Leadership & Management Operational Delivery Categories Government and politics About the author

Richard Johnstone is CSW's deputy and online editor and tweets as @CSW_DepEd

Image description PA Twitter Link

Read more on:

Facebook 

Twitter 

Website

 

Share this page Editor's Pick Promote as primary content Not Promoted
Richard Johnstone

Treasury planning pension changes to end tax trap that cost top officials £6m

2 days 15 hours ago
News

Overhaul would mean tax taper would "rightly affect high earners such as bankers", not doctors, air traffic controllers and fire officials, union says

Pensions moneyif (typeof _gaq != 'undefined') _gaq.push(['_trackEvent', 'Image', 'Impression', 'Pensions money', 1, true]);

Photo: PA

The government is considering effectively increasing the amount people can save in their pension before paying tax in a bid to close a contribution tax trap that has cost top civil servants £6m.

It has been reported that the Treasury will tweak the pensions allowances rules to stop counting pension contributions as income.

After a number of reductions in how much people can save into their pension, many senior public sector workers faced a choice of paying extra tax or reducing their hours, with senior doctors in the NHS reportedly cutting their hours.

RELATED CONTENT

In 2011-12 the tax-free allowance was cut from £255,000 a year to £50,000, followed by a further cut in 2013-14 to £40,000. An additional taper rate was introduced for those earning above £150,000 in 2016-17, which meant the limit could be as low as £10,000 for those earning £210,000 or more.

In addition, once people earn more than £110,000, then pension contributions are included in their total income, alongside their salary, for the purposes of applying the taper. This meant some senior civil servants' and top doctors' contributions exceeded the tax-free allowance, landing them with an extra tax bill. Figures obtained from the Cabinet Office by the Prospect trade union in August showed that 289 senior civil servants paid additional tax worth a total of £6,016,923.05 through their pension scheme.

The latest plan, briefed to The Times, pension contributions would not be counted as income for people earning up to £150,000 in an effort to effectively remove public servants from the scheme. This comes after the Department of Health and Social Care agreed to reimburse clinicians amid fears extra tax bills could stop doctors working.

The paper has also reported that ministers are considering the creation of a watchdog similar to the Office for Budget Responsibility to oversee pension savings in order to prevent a repeat of such problems.

Prospect's deputy general secretary, Garry Graham, said the union was pleased that the government was trying to “solve this issue not just for doctors but for leaders and senior professionals across the public sector”.

He added: “The reported proposals outline a change in the thresholds of the tapered annual allowance which would ensure that the policy affects people who genuinely earn more than £150,000. This will mean the taper will rightly affect high earners such as bankers without affecting doctors, air traffic controllers and chief fire officers.

“That said, the government does need to take action to remedy the imbalance in the benefit of tax relief between those on the highest and lowest earnings. We urge government to tackle anomalies that see the lowest earners unfairly not receiving any tax relief on their pension contributions.”

Tags Finance HR Categories Government and politics About the author

Richard Johnstone is CSW's deputy and online editor and tweets as @CSW_DepEd

Image description PA Twitter Link

Read more on:

Facebook 

Twitter 

Website

 

Share this page Editor's Pick Promote as primary content Not Promoted
Richard Johnstone

Foreign Office ‘risks exodus’ of EU experts after Brexit

2 days 15 hours ago
News

Hike pay to keep key talent, Institute for Government urges ministers 

Foreign Office sign Photo PAif (typeof _gaq != 'undefined') _gaq.push(['_trackEvent', 'Image', 'Impression', 'Foreign Office sign Photo PA', 1, true]);

Credit: PA

Ministers must give serious thought to raising salaries for civil servants working on the UK’s relations with the European Union – or risk losing talent to other areas of government and different organisations, a report has warned.

The Institute for Government’ Influencing the EU after Brexit paper argued that maintaining influence with the world’s largest free-trade bloc will require more resources and the right expertise – meaning better-paid staff and more of them.

It said the UK’s new status as a third-party nation will make retention and recruitment of the best and brightest staff more important and that the government may need to invest in new facilities to boost its hospitality offer.

RELATED CONTENT 

The report said that before the 2016 referendum on EU membership, the EU was seen by staff as a “credible career anchor” offering opportunities for interesting jobs in UKRep and high-profile London departments such as the Foreign Office, Treasury and the Home Office.

But it questioned whether working on EU policy will have the “same traction” once the UK has left the union and UKRep has been renamed UKMis – short for the UK Mission to the EU.

It cited evidence to the Foreign Affairs Committee in 2018 suggesting base pay for Foreign Office policy officers was 19% lower than comparable roles at the “leading department” while the gap at middle management stood at 20%.

“The benchmark will not only be UK departments, but also other member state representations, third-country missions and EU institutions, many of which – Australia, Canada, Germany, Japan, Mexico, Norway and Switzerland, for example  – offer higher salaries for positions at the same level,” the report said.

“If the FCO cannot compete with departmental salaries at home and foreign ministry salaries abroad, it will struggle to attract the talent it needs.”

The report suggested that in addition to offering staff more competitive salaries, UKMis and British embassies in the EU should at least maintain staff levels at those reached after the EU referendum, when a 14% cut in headcount enacted during the coalition government years was reversed.

It added that as part of its post-referendum boost, the FCO updated all ambassador positions to senior-management level and used £36.3m of EU exit funding to hire an additional 600 staff, with plans for a further 250 posts in London and overseas to support EU exit work.

The report warned that the UK government would be more reliant on personal relationships and soft diplomacy skills once Brexit had taken place, with civil servants needing to step up their monitoring of what is going on in the EU and identify areas where the UK’s interests align with those of member states.

It added that officials would also need to continue to build relationships with EU officials and EU27 and third-country diplomats in the bloc, along with civil society actors – as well as maintaining good relations with EU and member-state embassies outside of the EU.

Senior IfG researcher Georgina Wright said UK officials would have to work harder to ensure the nation’s voice was heard once it lost the veto on policy decisions that member status carries.

“Brexit provides an opportunity for the UK and the EU to find new ways of working together,” she said.

“But getting the EU to listen to British ideas will be much harder once the UK is no longer in the room.

“Countries outside the EU show us that influencing the EU is possible but that the government will need to get better at targeting EU institutions, member states, and other missions in Brussels.”

Last year the FCO agreed a bespoke pay deal with the Cabinet Office and the Treasury worth 6.4% to staff over two years in a nod to pay disparity at the department.

On the wider importance of hospitality for third-party nations, the IfG report said the government should reassess whether UKMis and British Embassy had the facilities they need to deal with the UK’s changed role.

The report said Brussels was a small city and it was not uncommon for diplomats to “bump into each other” at events, at lunchtime or even during school runs, and that it was often a lot easier to schedule last-minute diplomatic meetings in Brussels than in other locations.

“After Brexit, British officials will need to foster new opportunities to wine and dine EU officials and to host events,” the report said.

“Officials in third-country missions to the EU try to take part in as many events and receptions – at the EU institutions, embassies, think tanks or business gatherings – as possible. They also host events at their own premises, particularly if a delegation is visiting from out of town.

“British embassies may need an even bigger hospitality budget to accommodate the number of government, parliament or business and civil society delegations travelling to the EU.”

The report said unnamed officials had suggested the UK’s residency in Brussels was “overstretched” because it was currently being used by the British ambassador to Belgium, UKRep and the UK’s representative to Nato – all of which made it “difficult to provide a round-the-clock service”.

Tags Brexit HR International Affairs & Security Categories Government and politics International Relations Image description PA Twitter Link

Read more on:

Facebook 

Twitter 

Website

 

Share this page Editor's Pick Promote as primary content Not Promoted
Jim.Dunton

Royal Statistical Society award to recognise organisations leading the way on trustworthy stats

2 days 19 hours ago
News

New award will recognise bodies that have adopted Office for Statistics Regulation’s trustworthiness, quality and value pledges outside official stats

whitehall numbers, statistics, dataif (typeof _gaq != 'undefined') _gaq.push(['_trackEvent', 'Image', 'Impression', 'whitehall numbers, statistics, data', 1, true]);

Photo: Fotolia

The Royal Statistical Society is to recognise the organisation that has made best use of official guidelines for statistics publication, outside their mandated use in official government data.

The voluntary application award will be handed out at the 2020 Statistical Excellence Awards and will be given in partnership with the Office for Statistics Regulation. Civil Service World is the media partner for the award.

The award will recognise excellence in the voluntary application of the “pillars” of trustworthiness, quality and value outlined in the OSR’s code of practice for statistics.

RELATED CONTENT

The principles need to be applied in the generation of information classified by the OSR as official government statistics, but voluntary application means that organisation commits to the trustworthiness, quality and value pledges in how it produces and releases information even if the information is not classified as official statistics.

As such the award will be open to organisations outside government, as well as to government organisations publishing other types of information like research and open data.

Announcing the award, Baroness Onora O’Neill of Bengarve, the category's leading judge, said it was “an exciting opportunity for pioneering organisations that have voluntarily applied the OSR code to their statistics to gain additional recognition for their public commitment to high quality and trustworthiness”.

Ed Humpherson, director general for regulation at the UK Statistics Authority, added: “I am delighted this award for voluntary application has been created to recognise the fantastic work that has been undertaken by a wide range of organisations, in applying the principles of the code and enhance the public value for their users.”

Entrants will need to demonstrate how they meet each of the following criteria:

•           A stated commitment to applying TQV in producing and sharing their information;

•           Examples of how TQV have been applied to innovate or improve their information or processes; and

•           A demonstration of how public value has been enhanced by their application of the pillars.

Hetan Shah, executive director of the Royal Statistical Society, said it was a vital to recognise the organisations leading the way on such measures.

“It's important that statistics are credible, and this award will highlight those organisations that are voluntarily holding their statistics to a high benchmark,” he said.

The winner and runners-up will be announced at the RSS’s annual Statistical Excellence Awards ceremony in London on 12 May.  

Submissions can be made at www.rss.org.uk/va-award by 16 February.

Tags Digital, Data & AI Leadership & Management Operational Delivery Partnership working Policymaking Categories Government and politics Science, technology and research About the author

Richard Johnstone is CSW's deputy and online editor and tweets as @CSW_DepEd

Image description Fotolia Twitter Link

Read more on:

Facebook 

Twitter 

Website

 

Share this page Editor's Pick Promote as primary content Not Promoted
Richard Johnstone

BEIS ‘cannot know’ whether its business-support schemes are good value

2 days 20 hours ago
News

National Audit Office flags lack of measurable objectives and impact evaluation in department’s £2.4bn-a-year portfolio of help

Andrea Leadsomif (typeof _gaq != 'undefined') _gaq.push(['_trackEvent', 'Image', 'Impression', 'Andrea Leadsom', 1, true]);

Business secretary Andrea Leadsom Credit: PA

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy is unable to say which of its £2.4bn-a-year portfolio of business-support programmes offer the best value for money because of a lack of metrics and evaluation criteria, the National Audit Office has warned.

According to the public spending watchdog, the lack of data on what works best for business assistance means that the pressing need to replace EU-level support post-Brexit will result in decisions being made without lessons being learned from existing programmes.

The NAO also said that some of BEIS’ business support programmes were not necessarily aligned with its own industrial strategy, which it said had “yet to have a significant impact on the department’s support for businesses”.

RELATED CONTENT

Its report said the government currently spent £17bn on business support, £2.3bn of which came from the European Union. Of the total, £11.5bn is spent in the form of tax relief to encourage investment in areas designed to bolster the economy, such as research and development, via HM Treasury and HM Revenue and Customs.

The NAO said there were more than 100 business-support programmes across government that spent the remaining funding, of which BEIS was responsible for 47 – many of them “relatively small” with annual costs of less than £50m each.

The watchdog said that although there were around 1,500 metrics used by BEIS to track its support schemes, an analysis of 10 of the programmes found only four had “measureable and time-bound objectives” while only one had been “robustly evaluated” to measure its impact.

The NAO said the lack of measurable objectives had implications for their effectiveness, but also noted that BEIS had previously asserted that having measurable objectives could be “too prescriptive” for schemes that aimed to support innovation.

It said two of the schemes it looked at started before 2010mand that seven of the other eight programmes had not been subjected to cost-and-benefit analysis prior to being selected from shortlisted options.

“Consequently, the department may have discarded options that would have provided better value for money,” the NAO said.

“The department consulted on most schemes in our sample in some way, but the range of stakeholders that it engaged with varied and it could not demonstrate how these consultation findings had informed schemes’ design.

“This creates a risk of launching schemes that businesses do not need or that businesses find difficult to access.”

NAO head Gareth Davies said BEIS and the Treasury knew there was work do to improve the support offered to UK business.

“Government understands the importance of better co-ordination and coherence across the schemes it provides to business, but it still has some way to go before all the dots are joined up,” he said.

“More thorough evaluation of which schemes work best will help government plan and prioritise its support going forward.”

The NAO called on BEIS to ensure that all new support programmes had clear objectives in place from the outset that would allow their progress to be assessed and considered alternative ways of delivering  objectives “including a meaningful estimate of the value for money of viable alternatives”.

It also told BEIS to develop standard metrics across schemes with broadly similar aims to enable better comparison of their effectiveness by May; and to review its current schemes to determine their strategic fit with the Industrial Strategy by July.

BEIS said the NAO had “rightly recognised” schemes to support business needed to be co-ordinated and communicated well to be most effective.

“We will study its recommendations carefully,” a spokesperson said.

A linked NAO report on the British Business Bank, set up by BEIS predecessor the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills in 2014, said the institution was showing “positive signs to date”.

However it noted that the bank needed to develop further evidence on both performance and costs and make sure its financial management and governance arrangements were robust and ensure it demonstrated value for money over time.

“The bank’s costs have risen significantly as it has grown; while there is evidence that they are comparable with other organisations overall, there is limited information on the cost-effectiveness of its activities,” the NAO cautioned.

BEIS said the British Business Bank was currently supporting more than 91,000 SMEs with £7bn of finance.

Davies said the bank had performed well against its objectives and urged ministers to look at ways it could develop to meet the nation’s post-Brexit needs.

“Government now needs to think carefully about the role it wants the Bank to play in the future, particularly after the UK leaves the European Union,” he said.

Tags Brexit Economy, Business & Infrastructure Finance Policymaking Science & Technology Categories Business and industry Economics and finance Employment Science, technology and research Image description PA Twitter Link

Read more on:

Facebook 

Twitter 

Website

 

Share this page Editor's Pick Promote as primary content Not Promoted
Jim.Dunton

Farmers to be paid to protect the environment as Defra unveils 'landmark' post-Brexit agriculture plan

2 days 20 hours ago
News

Defra plan will base agriculturist support payments on public goods, such as better air and water quality

Farmer ploughing fieldif (typeof _gaq != 'undefined') _gaq.push(['_trackEvent', 'Image', 'Impression', 'Farmer ploughing field', 1, true]);

Photo: PA

Farmers will be rewarded for protecting the environment and boosting access to the countryside under the government’s post-Brexit agricultural system, it has been revealed.

The "landmark" agriculture bill will replace the EU's Common Agricultural Policy, which hands out subsidies to farms based largely on their size, with a new regime once Britain leaves the EU.

The legislation will aim to incentivise farmers with public money for "public good", including work to secure better air and water quality, higher standards of welfare for animals and measures to curb flooding.

RELATED CONTENT

Exclusive interview: New Defra perm sec Tamara Finkelstein on Brexit, identity and making the weather

Gove unveils post-Brexit Defra agencies review

PM launches cabinet committee on climate change

It will replace the system of EU direct payments, in a move that the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs claimed would boost the farming industry "after years of inefficient and overly bureaucratic policy dictated to farmers by the EU".

Direct payments will be phased out over a seven-year transition period beginning in 2021.

Unveiling the legislation, environment secretary Theresa Villiers said: "Our landmark agriculture bill will transform British farming, enabling a balance between food production and the environment which will safeguard our countryside and farming communities for the future.

"This is one of the most important environmental reforms for many years, rewarding farmers for the work they do to safeguard our environment and helping us meet crucial goals on climate change and protecting nature and biodiversity."

She added that the new system would “reward our hard-working farmers for delivering public goods, celebrating their world-leading environmental work and innovative, modern approach to food production".

The new bill has already been welcomed by the National Farmers Union, which hailed it as "one of the most significant pieces of legislation for farmers in England for over 70 years".

But the union urged ministers to back up their promises that farming standards will not be undercut in an attempt to secure trade deals around the world after Brexit.

“We'll continue to press the government to introduce a standards commission as a matter of priority to oversee and advise on future food trade policy and negotiations," the organisation said.

Countryside charity the CPRE said: "This bill represents a radical rethink of farming practice and, most importantly, finally starts to recognise the need to regenerate soil – the fundamental building block of our entire agricultural system."

Tags Energy & Environment Parliament Categories Environment About the author

Matt Honeycombe-Foster is the news editor of CSW’s sister site PoliticsHome, where a version of this story first appeared. He tweets @matt_hfoster

Image description PA Twitter Link

Read more on:

Facebook 

Twitter 

Website

 

Share this page Editor's Pick Promote as primary content Not Promoted
Richard Johnstone

The year ahead: ‘Civil service capability is key to the UK’s success and reform is an opportunity for Whitehall’

2 days 20 hours ago
Opinion

In our January issue, CSW asks experts to give their thoughts on the new government’s policy priorities. In this entry, Policy Exchange’s Iain Mansfield considers plan for civil service reform

Buses on Whitehall Photo PAif (typeof _gaq != 'undefined') _gaq.push(['_trackEvent', 'Image', 'Impression', 'Buses on Whitehall Photo PA', 1, true]);

Photo: PA

In Policy Exchange’s recent report, Whitehall Remimagined, we set out a ten-point plan for reform of the civil service. The report, summarised by Civil Service World, includes recommendations to strengthen No.10, improve the support provided to ministers, strengthen the role of specialists and evidence in policy making, transform public appointments and upgrade the government’s capabilities in public procurement and digital.

Our report explicitly rejects politicisation or a significant increase in the number of special advisers. Reform should take place firmly within the framework of impartiality set down by Northcote and Trevelyan and endorsed by subsequent reforms such as the Fulton report – and, as Sir David Normington has said, change will occur most effectively if ministers and the civil service work together.

RELATED CONTENT

Indeed, many our recommendations are aimed at bolstering the expertise of the civil service, which most observers would agree has had to cope with a decade of sprain. Time spent in posts are well below the benchmarks advocated by Lord O’Donnell during the noughties – driven, as Dave Penman rightly observes, by the end of pay progression post and exacerbated by HR policies that hinder and fail to incentivise senior leaders from managing work force. Our report explicitly calls for the return of pay progression, as well as for the restoration of the gold standard of promotion boards and numeracy and literacy tests for the Fast Stream.

Similarly, when it comes to embracing the 21st century, it is civil service capability that we identify as key to success, highlighting the criticality of appointing the right Government Chief Digital Information Officer and calling for a new unit to be established that will drive the ethical use of big data and AI. Our call to tear up the sclerotic bureaucracy of the Official Journal of the European Union and make public procurement an instrument of regional economic regeneration do not threaten civil service neutrality, but do reflect a need to be responsive to the democratic mandate expressed at the last election.

A civil service that can deliver more effectively on the electoral mandate of ministers will be one that is more flexible and responsive, but that at the same time remains highly competent, deep in expertise and politically impartial. Our report provides a measured approach that both ministers and mandarins should endorse to together deliver meaningful, impactful reform.

Author Display Name Iain Mansfield Tags HR Leadership & Management Policymaking Transformation Categories Government and politics About the author

Iain Mansfield is head of innovation at Policy Exchange

Image description PA Twitter Link

Read more on:

Facebook 

Twitter 

Website

 

Share this page Editor's Pick Promote as primary content Promoted
Richard Johnstone

Northern Ireland Executive to become Living Wage employer

2 days 21 hours ago
News

Pledge made in agreement restoring power sharing at Stormont

Simon Coveney and Julian Smithif (typeof _gaq != 'undefined') _gaq.push(['_trackEvent', 'Image', 'Impression', 'Simon Coveney and Julian Smith', 1, true]);

Irish foreign minister Simon Coveney and Northern Ireland secretary Julian Smith set out details of new power-sharing deal at Stormont. Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire

The Northern Ireland executive is set to become a Living Wage employer after the pledge was included in an agreement that led to the return of politicians to Stormont.

The pledge is included in the New Decade, New Approach deal, which was agreed by the UK and Irish governments as well as the five main Northern Ireland parties and ended the three years of civil servants running the executive.

The document says that the governments “agree that the executive should commit to becoming a Living Wage employer”. The living wage as set by the Living Wage Foundation is £9.30 an hour, above the £8.21 government-mandated minimum wage for over-25s.

RELATED CONTENT

The agreement, which  led to the reformation of the executive under first minster Arlene Foster and deputy first minister Michelle O'Neill, also said that the executive should move to ban zero-hours contracts. The UK government also said powers to set minimum wage levels would be devolved.

Gavin Kelly, chair of both the Living Wage Commission and the Resolution Foundation think tank, said it was a great commitment, and asked: “Why can't Whitehall do the same?”

Important footnote to Stormont deal.

As well as proposing the minimum wage be devolved (with massive implications across the UK...), it also commits the NI Executive to becoming a real Living Wage employer.

Great commitment.

Why can't Whitehall do the same?@LivingWageUK pic.twitter.com/MznyRCLJ1l

— Gavin Kelly (@GavinJKelly1) 14 January 2020 Tags Economy, Business & Infrastructure Finance HR Policymaking Categories Government and politics About the author

Richard Johnstone is CSW's deputy and online editor and tweets as @CSW_DepEd.

Image description Niall Carson/PA Wire Twitter Link

Read more on:

Facebook 

Twitter 

Website

 

Share this page Editor's Pick Promote as primary content Not Promoted
Richard Johnstone

'Every department should be a criminal justice department': cabinet committee to lead crime crackdown

3 days 19 hours ago
News

Prime minister will head up group leading government's efforts to cut drug trafficking and knife crime

Robert Bucklandif (typeof _gaq != 'undefined') _gaq.push(['_trackEvent', 'Image', 'Impression', 'Robert Buckland', 1, true]);

Robert Buckland arrives at yesterday's cabinet meeting, where he reportedly said "every department should be a criminal justice department". Photo: Aaron Chown/PA Wire/PA Images

Government departments could gain extra responsibilities to tackle crime, in a crackdown being led by the prime minister.

Justice secretary Robert Buckland reportedly told ministers yesterday that "every department should be a criminal justice department", as Boris Johnson revealed he will head up a cabinet committee aimed at combating knife crime and serious violence in a bid to restore the Conservatives' reputation as the party of law and order.

The committee on criminal justice will be modelled on a similar format used for key Brexit decisions and will include home secretary Priti Patel, attorney general Geoffrey Cox and chancellor Sajid Javid as well as Buckland and Johnson, The Times reports

RELATED CONTENT

According to The Times, it will aim to make sure all Whitehall ministries play their part in tackling crime.

Speaking alongside Buckland at yesterday's cabinet meeting, Patel reportedly vowed to "cut the head off the snake" and toughen Britain's borders in bid to to halt a flow of drugs into the country.

The move came as Johnson vowed to eradicate "county-lines" gangs, who often use children to distribute drugs sold over the phone or online to different parts of the country.

The prime minister told the BBC: "I want to see crime come down. I want to see the county lines drugs gangs wound up. They are reducing the quality of life for people across our country, they are killing young kids."

Johnson has already vowed to set up a wide-ranging Royal Commission on the criminal justice process, with The Times reporting that its launch could come next month.

"He said that [the Conservative Party has] historically been strong on law and order but in recent years been less clear on it," a cabinet source told the paper.

"He said that he wanted a return to clarity on it and addressing the concerns of the British public.”

The promised crackdown comes as the government battles a surge in knife crime, which is currently at its highest level on record, with some 44,076 offences involving a knife logged last year.

A Home Office document leaked in 2018 found cuts to police numbers since 2010 had helped to fuel an increase in violent crime as cuts to resources and charge rates had "encouraged offenders".

The report found that although resource pressure was not the “main driver”, it had "likely contributed".

Police funding warning

The Police Federation, which represents rank-and-file officers, has meanwhile urged ministers to oversee a radical shake-up of police funding – which is overseen by the Home Office – as the government seeks to live up to its election promise to put 20,000 more officers on the beat.

Police Federation chairman John Apter told the PA News agency that forces needed "at least" a decade of funding certainty as he called for an end to annual reviews of their resources.

Speaking ahead of the Budget, which is slated for March 11, Apter said: "The chancellor – who was the home secretary before – he knows. He’s told me he understands the pressures, the difficulties that policing has been under.

"Well, he’s now got to deliver."

And he added: “I am pinning an awful lot of hope into what this current government are saying.

"Some people are calling me naive for doing that but we’ve got to start somewhere and I will work with this new government, with the prime minister, with the home secretary, until they give me cause not to, and at the moment the relationship is a good one."

Labour's shadow home secretary Diane Abbott said: "The government urgently needs to explain how they are going to make good on their manifesto commitment to recruit 20,000 additional officers and what resources they are going to provide. 

"There is a danger that the pledge on police numbers goes the same way as the pledge on nurses, where new recruits are not extra police at all. This would be another Tory failure on policing, after they were responsible for this crisis by axing more than 20,000 police officers."

Author Display Name Matt Honeycombe-Foster About the author

Matt Honeycombe-Foster is news editor of CSW's sister site PoliticsHome, where a version of this story first appeared.

Image description Aaron Chown/PA Wire/PA Images Twitter Link

Read more on:

Facebook 

Twitter 

Website

 

Share this page Editor's Pick Promote as primary content Not Promoted
Beckie Smith

The year ahead: challenges and opportunities for transport in 2020

3 days 20 hours ago
Opinion

In our January issue, CSW asks experts to give their thoughts on the new government’s policy priorities. In this entry, Darren Shirley of Campaign for Better Transport looks at what Conservative pledges mean for connectivity

Railway trackif (typeof _gaq != 'undefined') _gaq.push(['_trackEvent', 'Image', 'Impression', 'Railway track', 1, true]);

Photo: PA

We begin 2020 with the new government’s pre-election transport pledges starting to be implemented. Combine this with the need to make rapid progress toward net zero emissions targets, and 2020 looks set to be a year of opportunities and challenges for transport.

The Conservative Party’s manifesto promised major rail investment, including a commitment to build Northern Powerhouse Rail linking Manchester and Leeds. Such investment is sorely needed, especially in those areas that have seen declining services and connections in recent years. There was also the promise of a £500m fund to reopen disused rail lines and stations, which was formally announced as Parliament returned in January. Rail reopening schemes can transform struggling towns, boosting local economies and creating better places to live, but the Government could be more ambitious: our research has shown that a £4.8bn reopening fund could create 33 lines and 72 stations, bringing over 500,000 people within walking distance of a station.

The railways have the potential to deliver huge economic, social and environmental benefits, but at present they are stymied by their ineffective structure and fragmented franchising system. Following the publication of the Williams Review into the system, the government must deliver a new national rail policy and the means to implement it, bringing an end to franchising and giving city regions more control over their rail services. Passengers also deserve comprehensive fares reform.

RELATED CONTENT

The importance of buses to communities has now gained recognition and went up the political agenda over the past year. We will hold the government to its commitment to publish a national bus strategy in the spring. The lack of strategic steer for our most-used form of public transport has contributed to dwindling services and rising fares, leaving non-drivers in many communities isolated and excluded.

Bus services need to improve across the country. Tickets need to be cheaper. A new generation of modal interchanges is required connecting bus networks with other forms of transport. And multi-modal ticketing, contactless payment and integrated journey planning needs to be available everywhere. There is also an urgent need to speed up the transition to zero emission buses. The government should set a deadline of 2025 for all new buses to be electric or hydrogen powered, and put in place a bus manufacturing sector deal to support this.

To meet carbon emissions and air pollution targets, and for the sake of long-suffering passengers and disconnected communities, 2020 must see a step change in sustainable transport.

Author Display Name Darren Shirley Tags Operational Delivery Policymaking Categories Government and politics Transport About the author

Darren Shirley is chief executive of the Campaign for Better Transport

Image description PA Twitter Link

Read more on:

Facebook 

Twitter 

Website

 

Share this page Editor's Pick Promote as primary content Not Promoted
Richard Johnstone

Government agrees £106m rescue deal for troubled Flybe airline and plans connectivity review

3 days 20 hours ago
News

BEIS secretary Andrea Leadsom says departments across government have worked to agree the deal in an incredibly short timeframe

FlyBe Photo: PAif (typeof _gaq != 'undefined') _gaq.push(['_trackEvent', 'Image', 'Impression', 'FlyBe Photo: PA', 1, true]);

Photo: PA

Ministers have signed off on a rescue plan for Flybe that will defer its tax liabilities in a bid to stave off the troubled airline's collapse.

Business secretary Andrea Leadsom said the package would help to protect jobs and give the firm a "sustainable" future, while government would also undertake a regional connectivity review.

Flybe, the biggest regional airline in Europe, had been forced to seek emergency funding amid heavy losses.

RELATED CONTENT

Under the terms of the multi-million pound rescue deal, Flybe's shareholders will be asked to put more into the business while the government is believed to have deferred an outstanding £106m air passenger duty bill until the spring.

The government will also carry out a wider review of air passenger duty, which adds a £26 charge to short-haul return flights.

Leadsom said she was "delighted that we have reached agreement with Flybe's shareholders to keep the company operating, ensuring that UK regions remain connected".

She added: “My department and others across government have worked tirelessly in an incredibly short timeframe. This will be welcome news for Flybe, their customers and dedicated employees, as well as those in the supply chain. We will continue to work with Flybe and regional operators to find a sustainable long term future."

Alongside the specific agreement with Flybe, a Treasury review of Air Passenger Duty has also been announced as part of the Budget process to ensure regional connectivity is supported alongside the UK’s climate change commitments to meet net zero by 2050.

APD charges for short flights start at £13 for economy and £26 for business/first.

Chancellor Sajid Javid said: “I welcome Flybe’s confirmation that they will continue to operate as normal, safeguarding jobs in UK and ensuring flights continue to serve communities across the whole of the UK.

“The reviews we are announcing today will help level up our economy. They will ensure that regional connections not only continue but flourish in the years to come – so that every nation and region can fulfil its potential.”

The news has been welcomed by trade union the British Airline Pilots Association, which said the package was "good news for 2,400 Flybe staff whose jobs are secured and regional communities who would have lost their air connectivity without Flybe."

Flybe's boss Mark Anderson said: "This is a positive outcome for the UK and will allow us to focus on delivering for our customers and planning for the future.

"Flybe is made up of an incredible team of people, serving millions of loyal customers who rely on the vital regional connectivity that we provide."

However, the decision to review air passenger duty has already sparked anger among environmental campaigners, who argue that the tax helps to reduce carbon emissions by deterring short-haul flights.

Green MP Caroline Lucas said the move was "utterly inconsistent with any serious commitment" to tackle climate change.

"Domestic flights need to be reduced, not made cheaper," she said.

Her Green MEP colleague Molly Scott Cato meanwhile wrote in The Guardian: "The Government shouldn’t be throwing a lifeline to Flybe or encouraging the domestic aviation industry through tax cuts.

"On the contrary: we need to use all the instruments at our disposal to radically slash the number of domestic flights and invest in a local and regional transport revolution. We must ensure that the cheapest and most convenient transport option is always the sustainable one."

But transport secretary Grant Shapps defended the decision to review the levy.

"Air passenger duty is not designed as an environmental tax," he told ITV News.

"But actually, I think that we can do far more by reviewing the way it works.

"I'll give you a simple example: there are now aircraft that are being designed and about to start flying which fly on electricity. They're going to do the island hops in Scotland.

"And actually, we should be shaping our regional airports so that they become greener and they're able to fly using hybrid and zero carbon approaches like electric. That's the future and that's where we want to get to. And that's what this review will look into."

Shapps said his department would undertake “an urgent review into how we can level up the country by strengthening regional connectivity and will look at all the options that we have to make sure our airports can continue to play an important role in driving economic growth, creating jobs and greening aviation, across the country”.

Author Display Name Matt Honeycombe-Foster and Richard Johnstone Tags Collaboration Economy, Business & Infrastructure Finance Operational Delivery Categories Government and politics Transport About the author

Matt Honeycombe-Foster is the news editor of CSW’s sister site PoliticsHome, where a version of this story first appeared. He tweets @matt_hfoster

Richard Johnstone is CSW's deputy and online editor and tweets as @CSW_DepEd

Image description PA Twitter Link

Read more on:

Facebook 

Twitter 

Website

 

Share this page Editor's Pick Promote as primary content Promoted
Richard Johnstone

Departments told to 'raise bar' on aid transparency as just 3 in 10 hit 2020 target

3 days 21 hours ago
News

DWP lowest-scoring of 10 departments for transparency on aid spending

An image of a sun shining through broken glass with clouds in the backgroundif (typeof _gaq != 'undefined') _gaq.push(['_trackEvent', 'Image', 'Impression', 'Sky clouds broken glass', 1, true]);

Just three out of ten government departments with sizeable aid budgets are meeting government transparency targets around how they spend it, a government-commissioned review has found.

Only the Department for International Development and the Department for Health and Social Care scored “very good” on the Aid Transparency Index used by the campaign group Publish What You Fund to measure departments’ compliance with the transparency requirements of the government’s 2015 aid strategy.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy landed a “good” score on the index.

RELATED CONTENT

Departments have until the end of this year to meet the transparency targets set out in the 2015 strategy. This equates to a “good” score on the index, which looks at the accessibility of aid data in five areas: project attributes; results and performance; organisational planning and commitments; finances; and joined-up development.

DfID was then highest-scoring of the 10 departments, which together spent £13bn in Official Development Assistance altogether in 2018, scoring 86.9 out of 100 for transparency. It spent three-quarters of the UK’s total aid budget in 2018.

By contrast, the Department for Work and Pensions scored just 19.6, marking it “very poor”, and the Department for Education’s 37.5 score landed it in the “poor” category.

PWYF found “encouraging signs of improvement on data publication and commitment to transparency” in line with the aims of the five-year strategy since it was launched in 2015.

However, it also identified a notable lack of information available on the results and impact of aid spending. Departments’ scores were lowest in the performance data category of the transparency index.

“This kind of information is vital for learning and continual improvement of the efficacy of aid programmes. It is essential if UK aid is to maintain its world-class reputation and ultimately if we want to make the greatest contribution to alleviating poverty and hitting the Sustainable Development Goals,” the report’s author, Alex Tilley, said.

Tilley urged departments to share more evaluations and results of their aid spending. The current aid strategy runs up to the end of 2020, and Tilley said it was vital that its replacement “maintains the commitment to transparency, with measurable targets”.

“We need to build on the momentum for improved transparency,” he said.

With less than a year left to meet the target of reaching “good” or above on the transparency index, PWYF urged departments with lower scores to “raise the bar” by publishing basic activity data such as objectives, procurement data and budget line items.

Those with higher scores should focus on improving the quality of their results and performance data, the campaigning group said.

A government spokesperson said: “More transparency leads to better results for the world’s poorest people. This report recognises improvements in the publication of aid data, but we know there is more to be done.

“Departments across government will continue to improve the transparency of UK aid and its impact, for example by developing a new publishing tool for aid data, committing to the monthly publication of data and centralising transparency responsibilities.”

Author Display Name Beckie Smith Tags Transparency & Open Data Categories Government and politics About the author

Beckie Smith is a reporter for CSW who tweets @Beckie__Smith.

Image description Public domain Twitter Link

Read more on:

Facebook 

Twitter 

Website

 

Share this page Editor's Pick Promote as primary content Not Promoted
Beckie Smith

Stretched probation staff facing 'unreasonably high' workloads

4 days 19 hours ago
News

Chief inspector says critical shortage of probation officers means service is ‘not performing to its full capability’

Justin Russellif (typeof _gaq != 'undefined') _gaq.push(['_trackEvent', 'Image', 'Impression', 'Justin Russell', 1, true]);

Justin Russell. Photo: PA

Probation officers dealing with some of the country's most high-risk criminals are working with major "staff shortages, stretched middle managers and poor facilities", ministers have been warned.

HM Inspectorate of Probation said staff at the National Probation Service – the Ministry of Justice-linked service that oversees 106,000 high-risk offenders, including those convicted of violent and sexual crimes – were facing "unreasonably high" workloads as the Government struggles to recruit enough people for the job.

The NPS was set up in 2015 under a split in the probation system which saw it work to rehabilitate high-risk offenders while new, privately-run Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRCs) were set up to manage the rest.

RELATED CONTENT

However, the MoJ announced that the reform would be reversed after poor performance of the CRCs led the-then chief inspector of probation Dame Glenys Stacey to conclude that the changes were “irredeemably flawed”.

In the latest report, Stacey’s successor Justin Russell said the publicly-run NPS had provided a better service than their CRC equivalents", and praised its leadership and the "range and quality of services" offered.

But the watchdog said there was now a "critical shortage of probation officers" as it warned that those taking on the job faced "a lack of investment" in their training - with London particularly hard-hit.

"Staff across the NPS are committed and hard-working and leadership is good at every level, but high workloads and a poor facilities management service means the NPS is not performing to its full capability,” he said.

"At the time of this inspection, there were 615 probation officer vacancies across the NPS. The service is especially short of this crucial grade of staff, who play a vital role in rehabilitating offenders and protecting the public. The problem is especially acute in London and the South East."

'Unacceptably high'

The report found that 60% of NPS staff had workloads "that exceed their expected capacity", while nearly three in ten had work piling up that was "more than 120% of expected capacity".

The inspectorate has urged ministers to do more to recruit "sufficiently skilled" staff and ensure they have a "manageable" workload once on the job.

"Many probation officers have unacceptably high workloads,” Russell said. “Staff are under pressure and this could compromise their ability to build effective working relationships with people under supervision and to manage all cases to a consistently high standard.

"NPS probation officers are working with people who have committed serious offences and who require intensive supervision and rehabilitation. We found staff shortages mean some newly-qualified probation officers are allocated complex cases that they do not have the skills and experience to handle competently."

Responding to the report, justice minister Lucy Frazer said: "We know that probation is not getting enough of the basics right – that’s why we are bringing all offender management back under the National Probation Service, which the independent inspectorate says is good at protecting the public.

"It is also clear that the workload is simply too high for many probation officers and the 800 new officers currently training to join the NPS will make a real difference.

"I am reassured that the chief inspector shares my confidence in the vision and leadership of the National Probation Service – which will be essential to delivering these reforms."

Author Display Name Matt Honeycombe-Foster About the author

Matt Honeycombe-Foster is the news editor of PoliticsHome, where a version of this story first appeared. He tweets @matt_hfoster

Image description PA Twitter Link

Read more on:

Facebook 

Twitter 

Website

 

Share this page Editor's Pick Promote as primary content Not Promoted
Richard Johnstone

Ex-cabinet minister accuses civil service of protecting own interests as he backs reform

4 days 20 hours ago
News

Two-time minister Liam Fox says government should go ahead with DfID-FCO merger, but DIT should be saved

Liam Fox, international trade secretary, speaking during a business forum in Tokyoif (typeof _gaq != 'undefined') _gaq.push(['_trackEvent', 'Image', 'Impression', 'Liam Fox, international trade secretary, speaking during a business forum in Tokyo', 1, true]);

Liam Fox when international trade secretary. Photo: PA

Boris Johnson will need to slaughter the civil service's "sacred cows" to succeed in radically reshaping Whitehall, according to former cabinet minister Liam Fox.

Fox said the prime minister – whose top adviser Dominic Cummings is considering a string of changes to the civil service's structure and working culture – should ignore "self-interest" from officials he said may resistant to change.

In a wide-ranging speech at the Institute for Government on getting Whitehall getting ready for Brexit, the former international trade secretary called on No.10 to stick to plans to close the Department for International Development to givethe government a “clear voice” on international issues after Brexit.

RELATED CONTENT

It has been reported that plans to merge DfID back into the Foreign Office have been abandoned, despite Johnson’s previous backing for the proposal.

However, several machinery of government changes are planned for after the UK leaves the European Union at the end of this month. It has already been announced that the Department for Exiting the European Union will close on 31 January, and other possible changes include re-establishing a climate change department and merging the Department for International Trade with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

They form part of what is likely to be a series of Whitehall changes, with Cummings saying government HR rules "obviously need a bonfire”.

Echoing the prime minister's own rhetoric about culling wasteful projects, Fox told the IfG this morning: “With a new government in place with a strong mandate at such a key moment in our history, this is the time to slaughter the sacred cows to which successive governments have given a last-minute reprieve in order to buy political peace.”

The former cabinet minister – who left government when Johnson entered No.10 – said the debate over Brexit was now “over” and urged ministers to “update our civil service in response”.

He added: "We need to ensure that we speak with a clear voice on the issues that really matter, with a single foreign policy and a strong overseas network to further our diplomatic aims and take advantage of the opportunities that will come with changing patterns of global trade.

“We need Whitehall structures designed for our post-EU future and a civil service that is able to wean itself quickly away from two generations of Eurocentricity.”

Backing plans to merge DfID with the Foreign Office, Fox said: "In each of these scenarios there will be warnings aplenty that machinery of government changes will divert civil service energy at a time when they need to be completing the Brexit settlement.

“The sublime irony is, of course, that this advice will be coming from many of the very same people who sought to thwart Brexit itself.

“It is true that machinery of government changes can be diversionary, but this is also the time for significant internal change to match the scale of the external challenge.

“With a new government elected, with a strong majority, in a Britain about to abandon some of the institutions to which it has been shackled for the last 40 years, this is no time to give undue weight to traditional self-interest.”

However, Fox seemed to stop short of recommending that his former ministry, DIT, should also be subsumed into the Foreign Office, instead calling for it to be built up to undertake multiple trade negotiations. The department is set to play a role in the UK’s negotiations with the EU over future trade talks once DExEU closes, while talks are also planned with the United States and Japan.

Fox said that despite civil servants thinking an agreement on the UK's future relationship with the EU should come first, undertaking the talks in parallel would be better.

The two-time cabinet minister, who resigned for breaking the ministerial code by letting his friend Adam Werritty into meetings when he was defence secretary, also set out some thoughts on civil service reform.

He said that he favoured bringing more political appointments into ministerial private offices should not be considered “heresy”, but that impartial civil servants should remain throughout the rest of the system.

Fox's call comes after charities and Conservative former aid ministers urged Boris Johnson not to axe DfID. Ex-international development secretary Andrew Mitchell wrote for CSW that scrapping the ministry would “destroy the most highly respected and effective international development organisation in the world, since the very specialist and talented people who run it will quickly be poached by International organisations and bodies”.

Unions have reacted frostily to the plans for civil service reform.

FDA general secretary Dave Penman said “it’s clear the prime minister’s aides don’t fully understand the modern realities of the civil service or, indeed, the impact of a decade of pay stagnation” that caused people to move jobs more frequently.

Garry Graham, deputy general secretary or Prospect, said the union was up for a debate on civil service reform, but added “let's also talk about pay and resourcing and how we build the public services citizens want and deserve”.

The PCS union said it would "strenuously" oppose changes to its hiring and performance rules.

Author Display Name Eleanor Langford and Richard Johnstone Tags HR Leadership & Management Operational Delivery Policymaking Transformation Categories Government and politics International Relations About the author

Eleanor Langford is a reporter for PoliticsHome, where a version of this story first appeared.

Richard Johnstone is CSW's deputy and online editor and tweets as @CSW_DepEd

Image description PA Twitter Link

Read more on:

Facebook 

Twitter 

Website

 

Share this page Editor's Pick Promote as primary content Promoted
Richard Johnstone

Gladstone to 'work from home' as Treasury mousing duties put on paws

4 days 21 hours ago
News

Treasury cat to “try out this remote working thing”

Gladstone the Treasury catif (typeof _gaq != 'undefined') _gaq.push(['_trackEvent', 'Image', 'Impression', 'Gladstone the Treasury cat', 1, true]);

Photo: HM Treasury (OGL v.3)

Treasury chief mouser Gladstone is taking a break from his Whitehall duties, it has been announced.

An update on the popular cat’s Instagram page said he was spending some time “remote working”.

“I’ve had such a restful holiday with one of my #HMTreasury humans that I’m going to be working from my new home for a while,” it said.

RELATED CONTENT

“It seems I’ve made such good progress as chief mouser that I can relax a bit for a while and try out this remote working thing.”

The announcement gave no indication of when the four-year-old would return to work, but promised updates “soon”.

The former stray – who is named for the former Liberal prime minister and four-time chancellor William Ewart Gladstone – has built a loyal following since arriving at the Treasury from Battersea Cats and Dogs Home in mid-2016.

He has amassed nearly 22,000 followers on his official Instagram page – and the news of his absence prompted an outpouring of well wishes.

“Oh Gladders! I do hope you’ll be back soon,” one commenter wrote.

“Don’t stay away too long please,” another said.

Neither the chancellor, Sajid Javid, nor Treasury permanent secretary Sir Tom Scholar have yet made a public statement responding to the announcement.

Gladstone is stepping back from his post just weeks after another of his mouser colleagues returned to work from a period of “stress leave”.

Palmerston was given some respite from his Foreign Office territory in King Charles Street in July after he was found to be over-grooming due to stress.

When he returned to Whitehall last month, he was given a smaller territory to patrol and Foreign Office staff were given a strict set of protocols to follow, including not feeding him or disturbing him during naps.

Tags HR Image description HM Treasury (OGL v.3) Twitter Link

Read more on:

Facebook 

Twitter 

Website

 

Share this page Editor's Pick Promote as primary content Not Promoted
Beckie Smith

Sterling: NICS ready to advise Stormont executive on ‘difficult and urgent decisions’

4 days 22 hours ago
News

Civil service chief commends officials for work in last three years as ministers return in Northern Ireland

David Sterling - Kelvin Boyesif (typeof _gaq != 'undefined') _gaq.push(['_trackEvent', 'Image', 'Impression', 'David Sterling - Kelvin Boyes', 1, true]);

Photo: Kelvin Boyes

The head of the Northern Ireland Civil Service has welcomed the return of the Stormont assembly and said that officials are ready to provide ministers with advice on the “difficult and urgent decisions” ahead.

David Sterling said civil servants, who have been running the executive for the last three years in the absence of ministers, have “gone about the business of delivering public services with their usual commitment and dedication, and I am grateful for their hard work and professionalism throughout this period”.

In comments to CSW, Sterling said the NICS "warmly welcome[s] the restoration of accountable government by the assembly and the executive" but that there are now “difficult and urgent decisions to be taken by the incoming executive”.

 

RELATED CONTENT

He added: “Guided by our core values of integrity, honesty, objectivity and impartiality, our role will be to give advice to ministers to enable them to make those decisions for the benefit of everyone in Northern Ireland.

“I have full confidence that NICS will embrace the challenge of working in support of the executive to deliver excellent services for the public.”

Sterling, who will retire in August, had previously said civil servants had been left in an "unacceptable" position, calling the period “among the most challenging and difficult in the history of the Northern Ireland Civil Service”.

“We have found ourselves in the unique situation of working without ministerial direction to keep public services running and deliver the best possible outcomes for our people at a time of unprecedented challenge,” he said when announcing his retirement in December.

“The enormity of the task has put significant pressure on the NICS and I am proud of the way we have responded.”

Returning first minister Arlene Foster said yesterday that said she would seek an agreement with the UK government on long-term funding for the executive as an early priority, alongside moves to improve the health service, education and justice across Northern Ireland.

Tags HR Leadership & Management Categories Government and politics About the author

Richard Johnstone is CSW's deputy and online editor and tweets as @CSW_DepEd.

Image description PA Twitter Link

Read more on:

Facebook 

Twitter 

Website

 

Share this page Editor's Pick Promote as primary content Not Promoted
Richard Johnstone

The year ahead: how government can create a more impactful civil society

5 days 15 hours ago
Opinion

In our January issue, CSW asks experts to give their thoughts on the new government’s policy priorities. In this entry, Dan Corry discusses how prime minister Boris Johnson can use his majority to boost the effectiveness of charities

Charity collection PAif (typeof _gaq != 'undefined') _gaq.push(['_trackEvent', 'Image', 'Impression', 'Charity collection PA', 1, true]);

Photo: PA

The Conservative manifesto said little about civil society. Yet a strong and effective charity and community sector is a vital part of a healthy society. Doing what it can to enable this should be high up prime minister Boris Johnson’s to do list.

Charities deliver services all over the country, helping create the social capital any healthy community needs. Promises in the Queen’s Speech to reduce homelessness and crime, along with pledges to rebalance social and economic outcomes across the country, can only be fulfilled with the help of charities, funders and community groups. To succeed, these organisations must be as impactful as possible.

At NPC we work with charities and funders to maximise impact. In our manifesto we identified a number of government actions that could help. Much of this comes down to an unrelenting focus on maximising the impact charities are having, openness in how data is shared between government, charities and funders, and a more inclusive approach to decision making.

RELATED CONTENT

Key recommendations include opening up government administrative data so we can assess the impact of social interventions. We helped set up the Justice Data Lab, one of the most successful collaborations between government and civil society. By sharing government data on reoffending with charities working in prisons, charities can see if they make a difference. Data Labs are a rare opportunity to bring digital, government and the social sector together. Government should expand these, starting with employment education and health.

Reinvigorating the Social Value Act by making social value a requirement in contracts, rather than an option, should be considered. Short and long-term social benefits must be properly factored in and costed alongside the more immediate, direct costs. We also need data on where the Social Value Act has led to increased investment in social outcomes. The government should publish data on the number, proportion and value of contracts going to charities through commissioning, so we can understand what is happening and address unjustified variations across services and geographies.

Government should also require charity trustees to report their impact. Charity trustees should report on their organisation’s impact in relation to their core mission and how they plan to improve. Regulators should question the charitable status of those repeatedly unable to demonstrate any impact.

Charities should be involved in the conversation on how EU funding is replaced after Brexit. Letting them help design and delivery of post-Brexit funding, including the proposed Shared Prosperity Fund, would ensure they are tailored to encourage cross-sector service delivery and data sharing. If government uses Local Economic Partnerships to distribute funding, then it must ensure it includes much more representation from charities to maximise the social impact of this money.

Part funding an independent Civil Society Improvement Agency should also be considered to encourage a much stronger focus on improving the impact of charities, particularly through peer review. The emphasis would be on good governance, data and collaboration.

The new government has made a commitment to introduce a raft of new social policies. A strong, effective and impactful charity sector, will be critical to their success.

Author Display Name Dan Corry Tags Economy, Business & Infrastructure Partnership working Policymaking Procurement & Commercial Society & Culture Categories Culture, media and sport Government and politics Society and welfare About the author

Dan Corry is chief executive of charity and philanthropy consultants New Philanthropy Capital

Image description PA Twitter Link

Read more on:

Facebook 

Twitter 

Website

 

Share this page Editor's Pick Promote as primary content Not Promoted
Richard Johnstone

The year ahead: former international development secretary Andrew Mitchell on DfID's future

5 days 20 hours ago
Opinion

In our January issue, CSW asks experts to give their thoughts on the new government’s policy priorities. In this first entry, Andrew Mitchell MP sets out why the government must keep the Department for International Development in the looming machinery of government changes

Andrew Mitchell and William Hagueif (typeof _gaq != 'undefined') _gaq.push(['_trackEvent', 'Image', 'Impression', 'Andrew Mitchell and William Hague', 1, true]);

Separate portfolios: Andrew Mitchell with foreign secretary William Hague during the coalition government. Photo: Anthony Devlin/PA Archive/PA Images

Ever since the Northcote-Trevelyan report in 1854, the British civil service has been a benchmark around the world for international integrity and public service.

As we move through Brexit both domestically and internationally, I am certain the civil service will rise to the challenge to deliver the public services their political masters desire. The new challenges certainly require more sectoral and specific expertise by dint of the fact that we are no longer part of a larger whole, and because of the ever-increasing sophistication of public service technology, which requires ever-increasing levels of human skill.

Different parts of the civil service will need to adapt in different ways.

RELATED CONTENT

Paradoxically, when I arrived at the Department for International Development in 2010 as its first Conservative secretary of state, I found the department largely full of experts and impressive specialists in their own areas but somewhat lacking in generalist civil service skills. So, I set about increasing the classic civil service DNA to bring DfID more within the Whitehall constellation and help this new organisation become more of a department of state within the government structure. It remains a huge bonus for Britain that the Foreign Office is still able to attract such an extraordinary quality of talent. This will be greatly needed as we craft the role and policies upon which “Global Britain” depend. 

I am sure the civil service will embrace the changes that Downing Street is seeking. There has been some public comment about the future of DfID and the possibility that it might cohere with the Foreign Office.

It is obviously sensible for the Cabinet Office, and political advisers, to look at all options for delivering better government and meeting the aims of ministers and elected politicians. But I doubt this reform will be sensible – and happily it now appears such a move is not in DfID's immediate future. The coordination that those who support this idea believe would result from a Foreign Office takeover is already available through the mechanism of the National Security Council – in my view, one of the Cameron government’s most brilliant reforms. This removes the need for any takeover by any other department because defence, development and diplomacy are seamlessly welded together through the NSC.

Such a move would also destroy the most highly respected and effective international development organisation in the world, since the very specialist and talented people who run it will quickly be poached by International organisations and bodies. This would be the very reverse of what I think Dominic Cummings is trying to achieve.

Author Display Name Andrew Mitchell Tags HR International Affairs & Security Categories Government and politics About the author

Andrew Mitchell is MP for Sutton Coldfield and was the first Conservative international development secretary from 2010 to 2012.

Image description Anthony Devlin/PA Archive/PA Images Twitter Link

Read more on:

Facebook 

Twitter 

Website

 

Share this page Editor's Pick Promote as primary content Not Promoted
Beckie Smith