Cabinet Office, Whitehall
|Preceding Department||Committee of Imperial Defence|
|Headquarters||70 Whitehall, London, England|
|Annual budget||£2.1 billion (current) & £400 million (capital) for 2011-12 |
|Minister responsible||The Rt Hon. Francis Maude MP, Minister for the Cabinet Office|
|Department executives||Sir Jeremy Heywood, KCB CVO, Cabinet Secretary
Richard Heaton, CB, Cabinet Office Permanent Secretary
|Child Department||Government Procurement Service|
|This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
the United Kingdom
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. 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 over 2,000 staff, most of whom work in Whitehall. Staff working in the Prime Minister's Office are part of the Cabinet Office.
The Cabinet Office's core functions are:
- Supporting the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister - to define and deliver the Government’s objectives, implement political and constitutional reform, and drive forward from the centre particular cross-departmental priority issues such as public service improvement, social exclusion and the third sector;
- Supporting the Cabinet - to drive the coherence, quality and delivery of policy and operations across departments; and
- Strengthening the civil service – to ensure the civil service is organised effectively and efficiently and has the capability in terms of skills, values and leadership to deliver the Government's objectives, including ensuring value for money to the taxpayer. This also includes working with the Treasury to drive efficiency and reform across the public sector.
Deputy Prime Minister
Within the department the Deputy Prime Minister has special responsibility for political and constitutional reform:
- introducing fixed term parliaments
- legislating to hold a referendum on the alternative vote system for the House of Commons of the United Kingdom
- legislating to create fewer and more equal-sized constituencies
- supporting people with disabilities to become MPs
- introducing a power for people to recall their MP
- developing proposals for a wholly or mainly elected second chamber
- speeding up implementation of individual voter registration
- considering the West Lothian question
- introducing a statutory register of lobbyists
- reforming political party funding
- supporting all postal primaries
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 originally founded in 1906 as part of the Committee for Imperial Defence and is concerned with Official Histories
- 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 that 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.
The Cabinet Office Ministers are as follows:
|The Rt Hon David Cameron MP||Prime Minister
First Lord of the Treasury
Minister for the Civil Service
|Head of government|
|The Rt Hon Nick Clegg MP||Deputy Prime Minister
Lord President of the Council
|Deputy head of government, political and constitutional reform|
|The Rt Hon Francis Maude MP||Minister for the Cabinet Office
|Civil Service, efficiency and reform|
|The Rt Hon Oliver Letwin MP||Minister of State, Lord Privy Seal||Government policy, Coalition Agreement|
|The Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP||Minister of State
Minister without Portfolio
Chairman of the Conservative Party
|Relations between government and Conservative Party|
|The Rt Hon John Hayes MP||Minister of State
Minister without Portfolio
|Parliamentary advice to the Prime Minister|
|The Rt Hon David Laws MP||Minister of State||Coordinating and developing Coalition Agreement policy across government - working to the Deputy PM Nick Clegg and alongside Cabinet Office Minister, Oliver Letwin MP|
|Jo Johnson MP||Minister of State||Number 10 Policy Unit|
|Brooks Newmark MP||Parliamentary Secretary (Civil society)||Big Society agenda; Charities; Volunteering; Social Enterprise|
All of the Cabinet Office's ministers, excluding the two Parliamentary Under-Secretaries, are Cabinet members; or are allowed to attend Cabinet when their brief is on the agenda.
The Cabinet Secretary is Sir Jeremy Heywood; the Permanent Secretary is Richard Heaton; the Head of the Home Civil Service is Sir Bob Kerslake, who is concurrently also Permanent Secretary at the Department for Communities and Local Government.
The Cabinet Office also supports the work of:
Cabinet Committees have two key purposes:
- 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.
The main building of the Cabinet Office is at 70 Whitehall, adjacent to Downing Street and was built in 1847. Remains of Henry VIII's tennis courts from the Palace of Whitehall can be seen within the building.
The building was originally the Cockpit, used for cock fighting in the Tudor period. It was then converted into a private residence by Charles II for Princess Anne, the future Queen Anne, when she married in 1683. In 1689, both Anne and her closest friend (and later most influential adviser), Sarah, Lady Churchill were imprisoned here by James II after he lost support to Prince William of Orange in the period just before the Glorious Revolution. After Anne's accession in 1702, she gave the Cockpit to Sarah Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough and her husband, John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough. They were the last private residents before it became the Treasury, and was being used as a Cabinet office by 1719.
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. In October 2013 during the St Jude storm, a crane collapsed on top of the Cabinet Office. This led to a closure of Whitehall.
The Cabinet Office has the following responsibilities at a UK national level.
- political and constitutional reform
- the Home Civil Service
- the Electoral Commission
- the Boundary Commissions
- the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority
Its main counterparts in the devolved nations are as follows:
|This section requires expansion. (May 2010)|
Northern Ireland 
- Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister (co-ordinating the Northern Ireland Executive)
- Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment (social enterprise)
- Department of Finance and Personnel (the Northern Ireland Civil Service)
- Department for Social Development (civil society)
|This section requires expansion. (May 2010)|
- British Civil Service
- United Kingdom budget
- Prime Minister's Strategy Unit
- Social Exclusion Task Force
- Cabinet Office Briefing Room
- Public Sector Internal Identity Federation
- "Structure Charts". Cabinet Office. Retrieved 18 June 2011.
- Budget 2011. London: HM Treasury. 2011. p. 48. Retrieved 30 December 2011.
- This should be distinguished from the Prime Minister's personal staff who form the Prime Minister's Office.
- Cabinet Office List of Ministerial Responsibilities, July 2010
- Note on development from National Archives
- National Archive Series reference CAB 103 accessed 14 September 2010
- Cabinet Office List of Government Departments and Ministers: Cabinet Office
- http://www.parliament.uk/mps-lords-and-offices/government-and-opposition1/her-majestys-government/Her Majesty's Government
- A Guide to Cabinet and Cabinet Committee Business. London: Cabinet Office. 2008. p. 44.
- Departments (Transfer and Assignment of Functions) Order (Northern Ireland) 1999