Sir Jeremy Heywood – Politics, Scandals, Cuts, Destruction and Chaos – Yet He Seems to Thrive On It

December 23 2013: Politics, scandal, cuts, destruction and chaos. Would anyone working in the public sector actually recommend it anymore?

At the very top is, Sir Jeremy Heywood, the cabinet secretary. Will he be prepared to rap ministers’ knuckles or demand David Cameron corral special advisers when they use the machinery of state for party advantage?

Political pundits say the general election of 2015 will be dirty, putting permanent secretaries on their mettle. But the fact that since 2010 none of them have sought a, “direction” from ministers – an explicit order from a minister to pursue action about which they have financial or administrative doubts – suggests they might not erect much of a barrier against politicisation. Civil servants face trial by ordeal – keeping public business (and ministers) honest as politicking hots up, as grave doubts grow about Whitehall’s capacity and ethos. NHS managers will struggle to survive amid resource crisis and the chaos created by healthcare “reforms”. In town and county halls, despair may overcome executives contemplating impossible financial arithmetic while dealing with the latest example of government’s simultaneous bid to control and blame them.

Coalition government has proved a dark hour for council executives and their troubles will deepen. There is no sign of relenting in the pursuit by government of their pay and pensions. Their national organisations, Solace and the Local Government Association, are silent, pale shadows. Bright spots include imaginative rethinking of conurbation governance as councils in Manchester, Merseyside and London come together in new combinations and some shire districts rationalise services.

The professional bodies representing clinicians specialising in emergency medicine say hospitals can neither recruit nor retain staff to work in A&E. In the new year, the Trust Development Authority (the body supposed to help NHS trusts make the leap into foundation status) will report that attracting both managers and board members is increasingly difficult.

If all that paints a gloomy picture of 2014, don’t forget it is meant to be that way. Oliver Letwin, chief policy strategist for the government, embraces, “creative destruction”. Francis Maude says the Tories are deliberately demolishing the state. Justice secretary Chris Grayling and other ministers are powering ahead with the replacement of public by private provision. The calamity that is the NHS was willed by the authors of the 2012 Health and Social Care Act.

Which is not to say that a change of government at Westminster in 2015 would suddenly see dawn’s rosy fingers caressing public service management. The safest prediction for next year (and possibly several years after) is that things are going to get worse before they have any prospect of getting better.

June 6 2014: Labour makes official complaint over use of Conservative slogan in Queen’s Speech

I am writing to express concerns that taxpayers’ money is being routinely used to promote the Conservative Party’s messages. It is, of course, the role of the Civil Service to communicate official government information to the public. However, it is vital that this work is clearly confined to non-party political activity. It would be completely inappropriate for the work of the Civil Service to be manipulated to support party political messaging. The Civil Service Code itself states that civil servants must not, “use official resources for party political purposes”. I believe there are serious questions to be asked as to whether the Code is currently being upheld. I therefore ask that you investigate urgently whether official government resources are being used to promote Conservative Party communications. In particular, I hope you will be able to answer the following questions:

Do you consider the slogan ‘long-term economic plan’ or ‘long-term plan’ to be government brands? If so, do you think it is appropriate for it to be used in the Conservative Party’s political and campaign communications materials?

What measures have been taken to ensure that none of the £290 million earmarked for external communications this year will be used to promote a political party’s message?

What processes have you put in place to ensure that public resources are used only for impartial and official government business?

What processes have you put in place to ensure the Conservative Party will not seek to use official government messaging for party political ends?

What communication has been had with the Conservative Party to ensure that this is the case?

In considering these questions, I would draw your attention to the fact that in 2009 the then Shadow Minister for the Cabinet Office Francis Maude wrote to the then Cabinet Secretary seeking assurances that the work of civil servants was not being used inappropriately. He argued that “addressing this issue is crucial to maintaining the integrity of the work of the civil service”. This statement is as true now as it was then. It is essential that the public has clarity and confidence over the proper use of public funds and impartiality of the civil service and as such I look forward to your response. In light of the obvious public interest in this matter I am releasing a copy of this letter to the media. Michael Dugher MP, Shadow Minister for the Cabinet Office.

July 7 2014: Treasury has not signed off on Duncan Smith’s universal credit

The Treasury is keeping a very close eye on the universal credit development, the responsibility of work and pensions secretary, Iain Duncan Smith, after it was criticised by the National Audit Office for its “weak management, ineffective control and poor governance”.

Sir Jeremy Heywood, the cabinet secretary, said the Treasury and the Cabinet Office’s Major Projects Authority, “played a very, very clear role in bringing it to the attention” of Duncan Smith that the project was, “way off track” at the start of last year. However, he said it was a good example where the most senior people in Whitehall had, “intervened very strongly” to help sort it out. Heywood also admitted that Duncan Smith’s department had mishandled Atos contracts, which has been responsible for delays in the implementation of a new personal independence payment to the disabled. He said there was an issue about whether the department responsible was, “sufficiently alive to the emerging picture”. “That comes down, in my view, to; first of all, was there, before the thing became a project to start with, before it became announced as a priority of the government, was there a sufficiently hard-headed assessment done at the gateway stage? Secondly, there is the perennial problem of whether we had adequate timely real-time information as to what was going on,” he added.

Universal credit has the support of all the major parties but Labour has pledged to, “pause” and conduct a three-month review if it wins the general election. Chris Bryant, shadow minister for welfare reform, said it was, “more evidence of the chaos surrounding universal credit”. “It raises worrying questions about George Osborne’s refusal to endorse his government’s flagship welfare reform scheme,” he said. ‘It’s time for David Cameron to call in the National Audit Office as a matter of urgency to get to the bottom of the true extent of the chaos surrounding universal credit.” A Department for Work and Pensions spokesman insisted there was no contradiction between McVey’s claims and the admission from Kerslake. “Universal credit is on track to roll out safely and securely against the plan set out last year.

July 31 2014: The hunt for a new BBC Trust boss has become a mess

Two more leading candidates have pulled out of the race to become the new head of the BBC Trust amid accusations that the process has descended into a “mess”. Sir Howard Stringer, the former Sony chief executive, and Michael Portillo, the former Conservative defence secretary, were both approached about the role but decided not to apply. A total of nine candidates have now pulled out including Lord Coe, the Olympics chief who had been the Prime Minister’s preferred choice, Dame Marjorie Scardino, the former chief executive of Pearson, and Sir Peter Bazalgette, chairman of the Arts Council. Despite the setbacks Sir Jeremy Heywood, the cabinet secretary, will begin interviewing the remaining shortlisted candidates today. Sajid Javid, the Culture Secretary, believes that the shortlist remains “strong”. However Greg Dyke, the former director general of the BBC, said that the job is “unattractive” because the trust is likely to be abolished under the royal charter review in 2016.

June 25 2014: David Cameron’s judgment in the dock after phone-hacking case – Labour claims he ignored warnings – Why was he not vetted

Miliband also raised again the issue of why Coulson was not given the highest security clearance – something that would have required him to be deep vetted, including a months long investigation into his private life. Cameron insisted that the initial decision not to seek the highest-level clearance for Coulson – in contrast to the six previous press secretaries – was made by the then Downing Street permanent secretary, Sir Jeremy Heywood. It has been previously reported that Sir Jeremy made the decision on the basis of cost saving, but Labour is to ask the commissioner for public appointments, Sir David Normington, to look into the procedure.

June 9 2014: David Cameron no longer scares his ministers

The Prime Minister, David Cameron, is damaged by an unspoken element in the public feud between Home Secretary Theresa May and Education Secretary Michael Gove. It is that his ministers do not fear him. Cameron’s continuing, baffling reliance on fingers-in-every-pie Cabinet Secretary, Sir Jeremy Heywood, is in evidence yet again. Heywood was asked by the PM to conduct a ‘review’ of the May-Gove spat — over whose department was to blame for Islamic extremism in schools. Afterwards, Heywood told Cameron he must take firm action against Gove and Ms Cunningham. This turns out to be Gove having to say sorry and Ms Cunningham getting the sack. Neither Gove nor Mrs May can be sacked. That would imperil Cameron’s own position. But the unfortunate Ms Cunningham is deemed dispensable.

Gove started the row by criticising Mrs May and counter-terrorism boss Charles Farr in remarks he made in private over lunch to cronies at The Times. Ms Cunningham, who is romantically involved with Farr and an often aggressive supporter of Mrs May, made public a private letter the Home Secretary wrote to Gove accusing him of failing to act on concerns about Islamic activity in schools. Leaking private communications between ministers is deemed to be very bad form. But why do ministers write complaining letters to each other if the intention is to keep their contents secret? They do so in order to put on record their grievances. So, if disagreements boil over — and there’s an inquiry into the matter — they can produce their letters as evidence. Ms Cunningham acted prematurely, that is all.

March 5 2014: Patrick Rock arrest: Sir Jeremy Heywood’s reply to Labour letter

I will try to respond to your specific questions but, as you recognise, in doing so my overriding concern must be to avoid doing anything to prejudice or undermine an on-going police investigation. Downing Street became aware of a potential offence relating to child abuse imagery on the evening of 12 February. I was immediately informed of the allegation and the Prime Minister was also briefed. Officials then contacted the NCA to seek advice on how to report suspected criminality. Our subsequent actions were driven by the overriding importance of not jeopardising either their investigation or the possibility of a prosecution.

Patrick Rock resigned on the evening of 12 February. His resignation was not made public as we judged it was inappropriate to make an announcement while the NCA investigations were continuing. A few hours later he was arrested. We also arranged for officers to come into Number 10 to have access to all IT systems and offices they considered relevant. There has been no contact from officials with Mr Rock since his arrest. Mr Rock was cleared to the standard SC level which was appropriate for the classification of material to which he needed to have access.

You ask a number of questions about a separate sexual harassment allegation. Let me start by saying that we regard our duty of confidentiality to staff who make complaints as extremely important. Confidentiality is essential if we are to ensure that people feel able to raise issues freely, and without fear of subsequently being identified. I am therefore not in a position to provide any information that might breach our duty of confidence or allow an individual to be identified.

On the specific questions you raise in relation to what you describe as “an allegation of sexual harassment”, again let me make clear that as you would expect we take any issue raised by staff about behaviour very seriously indeed. The complaint was acted upon immediately at a senior level and in accordance with Cabinet Office HR policy. The issue was resolved with the consent of, and in consultation with, the individual who raised the complaint. Both civil service and special adviser line managers were involved. I was briefed on the case and concluded that the matter had been dealt with appropriately. The Prime Minister was also made aware. You imply that the member of staff who raised the complaint was moved to another Government department against their wishes. This is completely untrue – no member of staff was moved as a result of the case. I am not aware of any other complaint about Patrick Rock’s behaviour while he was working at No 10


Sir Jeremy Heywood – New Civil Service Chief Executive Appointed – Track Record? Failure.

August 21 2014: New Civil Service CEO should report to PM, says think-tank founder

The new chief executive of the civil service will only have “sufficient authority” if he/she reports directly to the prime minister, rather than Cabinet Secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood,  John Healey, co-founder of new think-tank GovernUp, has said. November is the earmarked start date for the new CEO whose line manager will be Heywood, according to the job spec produced by the  cabinet Office last month. But, speaking in a joint CSW interview with think-tank co-founder CSW Nick Herbert MP , Healey MP said that, “unless they are in a position with sufficient authority”, the new person will struggle to exert enough influence in Whitehall. Asked what he means by “sufficient authority”, Healey said: “For me, it means reporting directly to the prime minister. It doesn’t mean reporting to some other civil servant.”

Healey said that he was, “sceptical” about whether creating a, “freshly designated post will make a sufficient difference”, adding that it will be hard to find both, “the skills to know how you can make big organisations that are disparate in their functions and structure perform, report and deliver better.” Herbert, who co-founded GovernUp with Healey 18 months ago to produce a range of radical ideas to reform government, was more optimistic about the new role. He described the new person, who must, according to the job ad, “demonstrate that he or she has had a successful career in the private sector”, as “a huge opportunity to bring in someone with real commercial acumen which is what Whitehall needs.”

The Financial Times newspaper reported on Monday, 18 August, that Whitehall is struggling to recruit anyone for the new post, “with several business leaders having turned down approaches from head-hunters less than three weeks from the closing date for applications” – 5 September. The FT quoted a “person familiar with the [recruitment] process” who said that the government has “drawn up a ‘plan B’ to appoint John Manzoni, a former BP senior executive and now the head of the Major Projects Authority, if a suitable candidate does not come forward”. Candidates who have been approached are, the FT reported, concerned that, “you sign up now and then six months later get a Miliband government.”

October 27 2014: Controversial former BP executive appointed to the top of the Civil Service

A former BP executive criticized for his role in the Texas oil refinery explosion which killed 15 people in 2005 is to become the first chief executive of the Civil Service. The controversy at BP arose when Mr Manzoni was blamed by an internal report for failing to heed, “serious warning signals” prior to the Texas explosion. Mr Manzoni ran about half of BP’s global operations before moving on to Talisman Energy, a company heavily involved in fracking in the US, which was fined over dozens of health and safety violations.

John Manzoni will be responsible for making savings across Whitehall in areas such as IT, procurement and contracts. For the past six months, he has been overseeing the Government’s watchdog scrutinizing major projects such as HS2 and the nuclear programme. He is due to start his new role as civil service chief on 13 October, with a salary of £190,000 a year. He will report not only to the Cabinet Secretary, Sir Jeremy Heywood, but also to the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander, and the Cabinet Office minister, Francis Maude. Sir Jeremy admitted that the Civil Service still needed to be, “much better at doing commercial stuff”, such as contract management, which will be an early priority for the new chief executive.

Mr Manzoni’s role will be vital as the Civil Service attempts to find about £13 billion of extra cuts in the spending round after the general election. Mr Maude said he expected efficiency would have a “very big role” whoever was elected, and Mr Manzoni would be closely involved in delivering that. One of Mr Manzoni’s priorities will be to drive the expansion of the Government Digital Service that aims to transform the way in which people interact with government online. However, this has not been entirely smooth so far, with a website designed to allow people to renew their tax disk online crashing on its first day.

Yesterday’s announcement comes alongside a new progress report on Civil Service Reform. The report says that more people from outside the Civil Service will be brought in to fill skills gaps, with more training and support for existing civil servants. By April 2015, there will be a presumption that senior civil service appointments below permanent secretary level should be open to external candidates. Applicants for permanent secretary posts will be expected – and, after summer 2016, required – to have completed an appropriate business school leadership course, ensuring that leadership skills are prioritised.

Announcing the chief executive appointment, David Cameron said that Mr Manzoni’s private sector experience put him in the, “perfect position to accelerate the pace” of civil service reform. Sir Jeremy added: “We have all been impressed by John’s leadership of the Major Projects Authority.” Mr Manzoni was chosen after an external competition which some believed would result in a high-profile outsider being brought in to run the Civil Service. However, there was thought to be little interest in so called heavyweight business figures, and ministers decided to stick with someone who was a known quantity.


Sir Jeremy Heywood – Warns – Cut’s You Aint Seen Nuthin Yet!!

1. July 2 2013: Sir Jeremy Heywood, Britain’s most senior civil servant said, “Britain is in a 20 year battle to rebalance the economy, returning the country to financial health

a. Sir Jeremy Heywood also suggested that the cuts made to public services to date were not sufficient and that austerity measures would have to continue for “at least” another four years. The comments from the Cabinet Secretary will have a sobering effect on ministers, who were buoyed last week by the announcement from the Office of National Statistics that Britain had avoided a double-dip recession last year.

b. They will also be noted by all three major parties as they draw up their manifestos for the 2015 general election. Sir Jeremy said that the cuts pushed through by the Coalition did not go nearly far enough. He said that there was a “very long way to go” and added: “This is not a two-year project or a five-year project. This is a 10-year project, a 20-year generational battle to beef up the economy in ways that we have not seen for many, many decades.” Sir Jeremy, who is close to Prime Minister David Cameron, was making a speech to an audience of civil servants at Civil Service Live in West London.

c. Sir Jeremy told the civil servants: “There is a very, very long way to go. We were reminded only last week that the economy as a whole remains about 4 per cent below the size that it was in 2008. “Five years on from the bottom of the recession we have still not even near recovered all the output we lost in that terribly deep recession that we suffered in 2007-08. “Those are really daunting numbers that just show the size of the challenge; there is no alternative.” Sir Jeremy said that rebalancing the economy away from financial services and more in favour of manufacturing was “much easier said than done”. He made clear that the cuts introduced by Chancellor George Osborne had not gone far enough because the deficit was still rising.

d. He told his audience of about 200 Whitehall officials: “All the civil servants in the room will be well aware that the last three or four years have been tough. There have been years of austerity, years of pay freezes, of pay restraint; every part of government has been told by ministers — and rightly so — to hunt out waste and tackle inefficiencies. “But despite all these efforts we have made over the last three years … our debt/GDP ratio is still rising, debt interest payments are rising. “There is still an enormous amount of work to get that deficit down to a balanced level to get the debt/GDP level falling rather than rising.” Sir Jeremy praised the “remarkably smooth” spending round for 2015-16 which was unveiled by Mr Osborne last week but warned that austerity would go on until 2017, and possibly longer.

e. Despite his gloomy assessment, Sir Jeremy said that for Mark Carney, the new Bank of England Governor, it was a, “good time to join”. Describing the Canadian as “the world’s most impressive central banker”, he said that it showed Britain’s “self confidence” that it could have a “foreigner come to work in such an important symbol of the country as its central bank. He added: “We will give him every support he needs.”

2. September 26 2014: Britain faces five more years of cuts, head of civil service warns

a. Britain faces five more years of public sector cuts which are likely to prove “even harder” than those which have already been made, the outgoing head of the civil service has said. Sir Bob Kerslake, who stepped down as head of the home civil service as part of a Whitehall shake-up ordered by David Cameron in July warned that the, “easier savings” had already been made and staff are, “looking for some relief”. In an address at the Institute for Government, a think tank, he said: “The first five years have been challenging but the second five years are likely to prove even harder for three reasons. The easier savings have already been made. We are likely to be doing it against a background of a growing economy and greater competition for good staff. The sense of urgency that underpinned the first savings programme will be reduced.

b. Sir Bob, who will remain permanent secretary at the Department for Communities and Local Government until he retires at 60 in February, said the plan devised in 2012 when he took office was supposed to amount to, “radical change” and he felt the service had “excelled” in delivering it. He said: “I have gone on at length about these drivers because I think they provide the enduring reasons for change and reform that go beyond current individuals and even governments. “The civil service is not and never was broken. But if it wants to stay relevant and be the best it can be, it must continue to reform. “Let me move on to the question ‘How far have we got?’ In short, I think that a great deal has been delivered that the civil service should take great pride in.” Sir Bob was replaced as head of the home civil service by cabinet secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood.

Martin Carter commented: ‘The easier savings have already been made’ What rubbish:

i. 850 ‘Lords’, including another tranche of unheard-of Lib/Dem councillors recently given an undeserved sinecure for life?

ii. Councillors drawing millions of pounds a year in, “allowances” for merely being locally elected representatives with responsibility for ensuring even more highly paid council officers do their jobs properly (if only).

iii. Unsackable police and crime commissioners (and their cronies appointed as deputies from the political lists) drawing £70,000+ a year.

iv. Up to six layers of governance over the lives of every individual in the UK.

v. Vanity projects all over the UK, including loss-making entertainments activities and venues, hopeless transport schemes and spending on little performance areas in front of town halls and civic halls.

There is plenty of fat to keep trimming away at, without even beginning to impact on front line services. But as long as it’s paid politicians who are doing the cutting, the front line services will be chopped every time.