The UK Civil Service

Facts, Analysis and Comment.

Whitehall MapThis website examines the skills and effectiveness of the UK Civil Service.

Working in Whitehall can be great fun, and very rewarding. It is good to work to improve the lives of fellow citizens, you get to influence important decisions, and you get to meet some fascinating people, a good number of them within the civil service. But new arrivals discover that they are subject to a bewildering mixture of rules, procedures and guidance, whilst at the same time they find it very difficult to obtain basic advice about how to do their job. The main aim of this website is therefore to provide a thorough introduction to the duties, responsibilities and working practices of Whitehall officials. It also contains detailed information about civil service numbers, pay, pensions etc. as well as a great deal of advice for new recruits.

You will also find a detailed history of civil service reform, together with a good deal of comment and analysis. Other sections focus on specific subjects such as policy making, Special Advisers and Ministerial Directions. There is also a large online library. Scroll down this page to access all areas of the site.

Facts & Stats

This part of the website provides essential factual information about the UK Civil Service accessed through the links below. Whilst reading these web pages, please bear in mind that the UK Civil Service is much more narrowly defined than in most other countries. Only 8% of public sector employees, and 1.4% of all employees, are civil servants.

IMPARTIALITY, ACCOUNTABILITY & all that

This section describes the duties and responsibilities of civil servants within the British 'Westminster Model' of Government.

SKILLS

This part of the website summarises what every Whitehall official needs to know. Once you have assimilated this material, I recommend that you then read Christopher Jary's Working with Ministers ‌which covers similar ground in more depth.

LEADERSHIP and MANAGEMENT

This section summarises the key lessons imparted by the best leadership and management trainers. 

CIVIL SERVICE REFORM

Societies fail if their governments are ineffective, and governments are ineffective if their civil servants are ineffective.

OTHER INTERESTING STUFF

REGULATION

Click here to access a sister website providing a comprehensive introduction to regulation and deregulation.

SPECIAL ADVISERS

Follow this link to learn more about these Ministerial aides.

MINISTERIAL DIRECTIONS

Senior officials must sometimes seek a formal Ministerial instruction to spend taxpayers' money. Click here for more information.

PRIVATE OFFICES

Every Minister has a small support team. Click here to read more about how they work.

WORKING WITHIN THE EU

Follow this link to learn how to work effectively in Brussels.

WOMEN in the CIVIL SERVICE

Fascinating history and inspiring stories.

POLICY MAKING

Seldom a smooth process. Click here to improve your chances of success.

ABOUT, RESOURCES & CONTACT

Further information About this website, and Contact information, is here. There is an extensive on-line reference library here. And you may like to use this search facility:


The Institute for Government website has lots more detail and analysis.

My blog is here and a link to my Twitter feed is in the footer below.

The third edition of How to be a Civil Servant was published in 2016. Click on the image on the left and enter the code CIVILSERVANTUK to buy the book for only £9.99 - 23%/£3 off the recommended price.