Cabinet Office

The Cabinet Office is a department of the Government of the United Kingdom responsible for supporting the prime minister and Cabinet of the United Kingdom.[3] It is composed of various units that support Cabinet committees and which co-ordinate the delivery of government objectives via other departments. It currently has just under 8,000 staff, some of whom work in Whitehall. Staff working in the Prime Minister's Office are part of the Cabinet Office.

Cabinet Office

Cabinet Office, Whitehall, London
Department overview
FormedDecember 1916
Preceding Department
  • Committee of Imperial Defence
JurisdictionUnited Kingdom
Headquarters70 Whitehall, London, England
51°30′13″N 0°7′36″W
Employees8,270 (As of June 2020)[1]
Annual budget£2.1 billion (current) & £400 million (capital) for 2011–12[2]
Ministers responsible
Department executives
  • Simon Case, Cabinet Secretary
  • Alex Chisholm, Cabinet Office Permanent Secretary
Child agencies
  • Crown Commercial Service
  • Government Equalities Office
WebsiteCabinet Office

Responsibilities

The Cabinet Office's core functions are:[4]

  • Supporting collective government, helping to ensure the effective development, coordination and implementation of policy;
  • Supporting the National Security Council and the Joint Intelligence Organisation, coordinating the government's response to crises and managing the UK's cyber security;
  • Promoting efficiency and reform across government through innovation, transparency, better procurement and project management, by transforming the delivery of services, and improving the capability of the Civil Service;
  • Political and constitutional reform.

The Cabinet Office has responsibility for the following at a UK national level:

  • the Home Civil Service
  • the Boundary Commissions
  • the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority
  • the Government Commercial Function[5] and the Government Commercial Organisation.[6]
  • the Government digital, data and technology (DDaT) function through the Government Digital Service[7]

History

The department was formed in December 1916 from the secretariat of the Committee of Imperial Defence[8] under Sir Maurice Hankey, the first Cabinet Secretary.

Traditionally the most important part of the Cabinet Office's role was facilitating collective decision-making by the Cabinet, through running and supporting Cabinet-level committees. This is still its principal role, but since the absorption of some of the functions of the Civil Service Department in 1981 the Cabinet Office has also helped to ensure that a wide range of Ministerial priorities are taken forward across Whitehall.

It also contains miscellaneous units that do not sit well in other departments. For example:

  • The Historical Section was founded in 1906 as part of the Committee for Imperial Defence and is concerned with Official Histories.[9]
  • The Joint Intelligence Committee was founded in 1936 and transferred to the department in 1957. It deals with intelligence assessments and directing the national intelligence organisations of the UK.
  • The Ceremonial Branch was founded in 1937 and transferred to the department in 1981. It was originally concerned with all ceremonial functions of state, but today it handles honours and appointments.

In modern times the Cabinet Office often takes on responsibility for areas of policy which are the priority of the Government of the time. The units that administer these areas migrate in and out of the Cabinet Office as government priorities (and governments) change.

Ministers and Civil Servants

The Cabinet Office Ministers are as follows:[10]

Minister Rank Portfolio
The Rt Hon. Boris Johnson MP Prime Minister
First Lord of the Treasury
Minister for the Civil Service
Minister for the Union
Head of government; oversees the operation of the Civil Service and government agencies; appoints members of the government; he is the principal government figure in the House of Commons.
The Rt Hon. Michael Gove MP Minister for the Cabinet Office
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
Oversight of all Cabinet Office policy and appointments; oversight of transition period activity and our future relations with the EU; oversight of constitutional policy and enhancement, defending democracy and electoral law, devolution issues and strengthening the Union; leading cross-government and public sector transformation and efficiency; oversight of cross-government work on veterans’ issues; oversight of Cabinet Office responsibilities on National Security and resilience, and the Civil Contingencies; Secretariat, including COVID-19 supporting the coordination of the cross-government and the devolution aspects of the response to COVID-19.
The Rt Hon. Alok Sharma MP COP26 President Leading preparations for the 26th United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26), to be held in Glasgow in November 2021; Chairing the Climate Action Implementation Cabinet Committee to coordinate government action towards net zero by 2050.
The Rt Hon. The Baroness Evans of Bowes Park Leader of the House of Lords
Lord Keeper of the Privy Seal
Management and delivery of the Government's legislative programme (through the House of Lords) and facilitating the passage of individual bills; Leading the House (in the Chamber and as a key member of domestic committees to do with procedure, conduct, and the internal governance of the House); Issues connected to the House of Lords and its governance; Speaking for the Government in the Chamber on a range of issues, including repeating in the House of Lords statements made to the Commons by the Prime Minister; Ceremonial and other duties as the Lord Keeper of the Privy Seal.
The Rt Hon. The Lord Frost Minister of State at the Cabinet Office Oversight of the implementation of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement and Withdrawal Agreement, including the Northern Ireland protocol; UK co-chair of the Joint Committee and Partnership Council; Oversight of the effective conduct of EU related business with the EU and its Member States; Supporting the coordination of cross-Government positions on trade issues; Oversight of the development of cross-Government work on maximising the economic and political opportunities flowing from EU exit; Oversight of domestic transition readiness (held jointly with the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster until 12th April).
The Rt Hon. Amanda Milling MP Minister without Portfolio Supporting the Cabinet Office; The Minister without Portfolio is a member of Cabinet.
The Rt Hon. Jacob Rees-Mogg MP Leader of the House of Commons
Lord President of the Council
The Government's Legislative Programme, chairing the Cabinet Committee; Managing and announcing the business of the House of Commons weekly and facilitating motions and debate in the Chamber, particularly on House business; Government's representative in the House (sitting on the House of Commons Commission, Public Accounts Commission, and the Speaker's Committees on the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority); House of Commons representative in Government; Parliamentary reform and policy; Ministerial responsibility for the Privy Council Office.
Honorary Commander The Rt Hon. Penny Mordaunt MP Paymaster General Supporting the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster in coordinating the transition to our future relations with the EU; supporting the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster on devolution issues relating to our future relationship with the EU and international trade; supporting the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster on civil contingencies issues (including COVID-19), cyber security, joint funds, Official Development Assistance (ODA) and the global goals; government inquiries - Infected Blood.
Chloe Smith MP Minister of State for the Constitution and Devolution Supporting the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster on constitutional policy and enhancement; defending democracy and electoral law; supporting the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster on driving the government's devolution agenda; supporting the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster to strengthen the Union.
The Rt Hon. The Lord Agnew of Oulton Minister of State for Efficiency and Transformation
(jointly with HM Treasury)
Public value and planning and performance; supporting the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster on cross-government functions and controls, including public bodies and Cabinet Office domestic; supporting procurement and other government functional activity relating to COVID-19.
The Rt Hon. The Lord True Minister of State at the Cabinet Office Leading on all Cabinet Office business in the Lords, including the Cabinet Office legislation programme in the Lords; supporting the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster in coordinating the transition to our future relations with the EU; supporting the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster on constitutional policy and enhancement.
Julia Lopez MP Minister for Implementation Supporting the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Lord Agnew to deliver cross-government efficiency and public sector transformation; supporting the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster in coordinating the transition to our future relations with the EU; supporting Cabinet Office primary legislation in the Commons and the Cabinet Office secondary legislation programme; oversight of Cabinet Office corporate activity, including staff within the Equalities Hub (NB. responsibility for equalities policy sits with Minister for Women & Equalities, Minister for Disabled People and XST).
Vacant Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence People and Veterans (joint with Ministry of Defence) Civilian and service personnel policy, armed forces pay, pensions and compensation, Armed Forces Covenant, welfare and service families; community engagement, equality, diversity and inclusion, veterans (including resettlement, transition, defence charities and Ministerial Covenant and Veterans Board, and Office of Veteran Affairs), legacy issues and non-operational public inquiries and inquests, mental health, Defence Medical Services, the people programme (Flexible Engagement Strategy, Future Accommodation Model and Enterprise Approach), estates service family accommodation policy and engagement with welfare.

The Cabinet Office senior Civil Servants are as follows:

Name Position Tenure
Simon Case[11] Cabinet Secretary and Head of the Home Civil Service 9 September 2020 – present
Alex Chisholm[12] Permanent Secretary and Chief Executive of the Home Civil Service 14 April 2020 – present
James Bowler[13] Second Permanent Secretary - Head of the COVID Taskforce 9 October 2020 – present

The Cabinet Office also supports the work of:

  • The Leader of the House of Commons
  • The Leader of the House of Lords
  • The Whips Office

The Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Cabinet Office supports the work of ministers.

Committees

Cabinet committees have two key purposes:[14]

  • To relieve the burden on the Cabinet by dealing with business that does not need to be discussed at full Cabinet. Appeals to the Cabinet should be infrequent, and Ministers chairing Cabinet Committees should exercise discretion in advising the prime minister whether to allow them.
  • To support the principle of collective responsibility by ensuring that, even though a question may never reach the Cabinet itself, it will be fully considered. In this way, the final judgement is sufficiently authoritative that Government as a whole can be expected to accept responsibility for it. In this sense, Cabinet Committee decisions have the same authority as Cabinet decisions.

Buildings

The entrance to the Cabinet Office.

The main building of the Cabinet Office is at 70 Whitehall, adjacent to Downing Street. The building connects three historically distinct properties, as well as the remains of Henry VIII's 1530 tennis courts, part of the Palace of Whitehall, which can be seen within the building. The Whitehall frontage was designed by Sir John Soane and completed by Sir Charles Barry between 1845 and 1847 as the Treasury Buildings. Immediately to the west Dorset House (1700) connects the front of the building to William Kent's Treasury (1733–36), which faces out onto Horse Guards Parade. The latter is built over the site of the Cockpit, used for cock fighting in the Tudor period, and subsequently as a theatre. In the early 1960s the buildings were restored and many of the Tudor remains were exposed and repaired. Significant renovations between 2010 and 2016 converted many of the floors to open plan and created new office space. The Cabinet Office Briefing Rooms are located on this site.

The department occupies other buildings in Whitehall and the surrounding area, including part of 1 Horse Guards, as well as sites in other parts of the country.

See also

  • British Civil Service
  • Cabinet Office Briefing Rooms
  • Prime Minister's Strategy Unit
  • Public Sector Internal Identity Federation
  • Social Exclusion Task Force
  • United Kingdom budget

References

  1. "Civil service employment - Table 9, Row 23". Public sector employment dataset - June 2020. Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 28 November 2020.
  2. Budget 2011 (PDF). London: HM Treasury. 2011. p. 48. Archived from the original (PDF) on 1 August 2011. Retrieved 4 December 2014.
  3. This should be distinguished from the prime minister's personal staff who form the Prime Minister's Office.
  4. "Cabinet Office, About Us". HM Government. Retrieved 29 March 2020.
  5. Government Commercial Function: Looking to the Future, accessed 5 May 2019
  6. Government Commercial Function, Government Commercial Organisation, published 5 June 2018, accessed 5 May 2019
  7. Government Functional Standard GovS 005: Digital, Data and Technology, published 2 July 2020, accessed 26 Nov 2020
  8. "Research Guide: Cabinet Office Records - Your Archives". webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk. Archived from the original on 24 February 2013. Retrieved 3 July 2007.
  9. "National Archive Series reference CAB 103". Retrieved 30 September 2014.
  10. "Our ministers". GOV.UK. Retrieved 11 January 2021.
  11. "Simon Case Government Profile". Gov.uk. UK Government. Retrieved 28 November 2020.
  12. "Alex Chisholm Government Profile". Gov.uk. UK Government. Retrieved 28 November 2020.
  13. "James Bowler Government Profile". Gov.uk. UK Government. Retrieved 28 November 2020.
  14. "A Guide to Cabinet and Cabinet Committee Business" (PDF). London: Cabinet Office. 2008: 44. Archived from the original (PDF) on 27 March 2009. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
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