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 over 2,000 staff, most of whom work in Whitehall. Staff working in the Prime Minister's Office are part of the Cabinet Office.

Cabinet Office
Welsh: Swyddfa'r Cabinet
Cabinet Office logo
Cabinet Office (29542331802)

Cabinet Office, Whitehall, London
Department overview
FormedDecember 1916
Preceding Department
JurisdictionUnited Kingdom
Headquarters70 Whitehall, London, England
Employees1,668[1] FTE
Annual budget£2.1 billion (current) & £400 million (capital) for 2011–12 [2]
Ministers responsible
Department executives
Child Department
WebsiteCabinet Office


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

  • Supporting the 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.

Other functions include oversight of the Crown Commercial Service and the accreditation of Social Impact Contractors.

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

Devolved nations

Its main counterparts in the devolved nations are as follows:


Northern Ireland [7]



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.


The Cabinet Office Ministers are as follows:[10]

Minister Rank Portfolio
The Rt Hon. Theresa May MP Prime Minister
First Lord of the Treasury
Minister for the Civil Service
Head of government
The Rt Hon. David Lidington CBE MP Minister for the Cabinet Office
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
Advising the Prime Minister on developing and implementing government policy; driving forward government business and implementation including chairing and deputy chairing Cabinet committees and implementation taskforces; overseeing devolution consequences of EU exit; overseeing constitutional affairs and maintaining the integrity of the Union; oversight of all Cabinet Office policies
The Rt Hon. Brandon Lewis MP Minister without portfolio (Cabinet Office)
Party Chair (unpaid)
Supporting the Cabinet Office. Leading work of Cabinet Office Brexit preparedness, and attends Cabinet.
Oliver Dowden CBE MP Parliamentary Secretary (Minister for Implementation) Efficiency and controls; cyber and resilience; Single Departmental Plans; Infrastructure and Projects Authority; civil service HR (including trade unions and pensions); Government Digital Service; government property; commercial and Crown Commercial Service; commercial models; shared services; government security group; “What works” and behaviour change; public appointments
Kevin Foster MP Parliamentary Secretary (Minister for the Constitution) Constitutional policy and democracy; propriety, ethics and transparency; knowledge management; UK Statistics Authority; Cabinet Office Parliamentary business; Cabinet Office domestic (including Cabinet Office HR, finance and security); government communications; fraud, error, debt and grants; public bodies reform

The Cabinet Secretary and Head of the Home Civil Service is Sir Mark Sedwill; the Permanent Secretary and Chief Executive of the Home Civil Service is John Manzoni.

The Cabinet Office also supports the work of:


Cabinet committees have two key purposes:[11]

  • 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.


Cabinet Office, Whitehall, London, UK - 20130629-02
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


  1. ^ "Annual Report 2013–2014" (PDF). Cabinet Office. Retrieved 22 September 2014.
  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 List of Ministerial Responsibilities, July 2010" (PDF). Retrieved 30 September 2014.
  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. ^ Departments (Transfer and Assignment of Functions) Order (Northern Ireland) 1999
  8. ^ Note on development from National Archives
  9. ^ "National Archive Series reference CAB 103". Retrieved 30 September 2014.
  10. ^ "Our ministers". GOV.UK. Retrieved 26 July 2016.
  11. ^ "A Guide to Cabinet and Cabinet Committee Business" (PDF). London: Cabinet Office. 2008: 44. Archived from the original (PDF) on 27 March 2009.

External links

Coordinates: 51°30′13″N 0°7′36″W / 51.50361°N 0.12667°W

2016 Prime Minister's Resignation Honours

The 2016 Prime Minister's Resignation Honours are honours awarded following the July 2016 resignation of the Prime Minister, David Cameron. The life peerages and other honours were issued as two separate lists by the Cabinet Office on 4 August 2016 and all honours were gazetted as one list on 16 August 2016. This was the first Prime Minister's Resignation Honours since 1997.On 22 July 2016, it was alleged that officials in the Cabinet Office and the House of Lords Appointments Commission had blocked the list, citing ethical concerns about some of the intended recipients of honours, particularly those destined for the peerage. Many of the names of those honoured were leaked and published in the press on 31 July. On 1 August, Downing Street spokesperson said that the incoming prime minister, Theresa May, would not intervene in Cameron's resignation honours.

Cabinet Manual

The Cabinet Manual is a government document in the United Kingdom which sets out the main laws, rules and conventions affecting the conduct and operation of the Government of the United Kingdom. It was written by Her Majesty's Civil Service, led by Cabinet Secretary Sir Gus O'Donnell, and was published by the Cabinet Office on 14 December 2010. The Manual gives an overview of the UK's system of government, reflecting the importance of Parliament, Cabinet government and the democratic nature of the UK’s constitutional arrangements by explaining the powers of the Executive, Sovereign, Parliament, international institutions (most notably the European Union), the Crown Dependencies, British Overseas Territories and the devolved administrations in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. The Manual was written as a guide for members of Cabinet, other ministers and civil servants in the execution of government business, but also serves to consolidate many of the previously unwritten constructional conventions through which the British government operates.

The writing of the Manual was originally initiated by Gordon Brown as part of his broader plan to establish a written constitution for the UK. However, in 2011 the House of Lords Constitution Committee stated that the document was "not the first step to a written constitution" as it only describes the existing rules and does not "set existing practice in stone". The Manual does not need to be formally approved by Parliament and can be modified at any time by the Cabinet Secretary.

Cabinet Office (Japan)

The Cabinet Office (内閣府, Naikaku-fu) is an agency of the Cabinet of Japan. It is responsible for handling the day-to-day affairs of the Cabinet. The Cabinet Office is formally headed by the Prime Minister. There are usually three State Ministers (fuku-daijin) and three Parliamentary Vice-Ministers (daijin seimukan) in the Cabinet Office.

Cabinet Office (Ontario)

The Ontario Cabinet Office is a ministry of the Government of Ontario. Its role is to serve as the Premier's ministry, and as such its employees are not political appointees, but are permanent members of the public service.Cabinet Office is headed by the Secretary of the Cabinet, currently Steven Davidson, who is also head of the public service.In past years, the size of Cabinet Office has grown considerably. This mirrors growth in the central agencies of other governments in the Western world, including the Canadian federal government.

Cabinet Office Briefing Rooms

The Cabinet Office Briefing Rooms (COBR, often mistakenly referred to as COBRA) are a group of meeting rooms in the Cabinet Office at 70 Whitehall, often used for different committees which co-ordinate the actions of bodies within the Government of the United Kingdom in response to instances of national or regional crisis, or during events abroad with major implications for the UK.

The composition of a Ministerial-level meeting in COBR depends on the nature of the incident but it is usually chaired by the Prime Minister or another senior minister, with other key ministers as appropriate, city mayors and representatives of relevant external organisations such as the National Police Chiefs' Council and the Local Government Association.The first COBR meeting took place in the 1970s to oversee the government's response to the 1972 miners' strike. Other events that have led to meetings being convened include the 1980 Iranian Embassy siege, fuel protests, the 2001 foot and mouth outbreak, the 11 September 2001 attacks, the 7 July 2005 London bombings, the refugee crisis in Calais, the 2015 Paris attacks, and the 2017 Manchester Arena explosion.In 2009, former senior police officer Andy Hayman, who sat on the committee after the 7 July 2005 London bombings and at other intervals from 2005 to 2007, was highly critical of its workings in his book The Terrorist Hunters.A single photo of one of the rooms in COBR was released in 2010 in response to a Freedom of Information Act request.

Cabinet Secretary

A Cabinet Secretary is usually a senior official (typically a civil servant) who provides services and advice to a Cabinet of Ministers as part of the Cabinet Office. In many countries, the position can have considerably wider functions and powers, including general responsibility for the entire civil service.

The title of Cabinet Secretary may also be used as an alternative term for a politically appointed cabinet minister, derived from Secretary of State—the formal title for ministers. This naming convention is used in Japan, Kenya, Scotland and the United States.

Cabinet department

A cabinet department or prime minister's department is a department or other government agency that directly supports the work of the government's central executive office, usually the cabinet and/or prime minister, rather than specific ministerial portfolios. Such a department is present in many parliamentary democracies. The department is roughly equivalent in function to a president's office in a presidential system of government or an office of the council of ministers in a semi-presidential system.

In many countries, such a department is called a Prime Minister's Office. In some other countries, there is a Cabinet Office. In the United Kingdom, the Prime Minister's Office is a part of the Cabinet Office; in Australia and New Zealand, there is a single department called the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. In some countries, such as Germany and Poland, the department supporting the prime minister (the Chancellor in Germany) is called the chancellery.

Self-governing states and provinces within federations that are parliamentary democracies often have similar departments, such as a premier's department or, in Australia, Department of the Premier and Cabinet.

Cabinet of the United Kingdom

The Cabinet of the United Kingdom is the collective decision-making body of Her Majesty's Government of the United Kingdom, composed of the Prime Minister and 21 cabinet ministers, the most senior of the government ministers.

Ministers of the Crown, and especially Cabinet ministers, are selected primarily from the elected members of House of Commons, and from the House of Lords, by the Prime Minister. Cabinet ministers are usually heads of government departments, mostly with the office of "Secretary of State for [function; e.g., Defence]". However some cabinet ministers can be ministers without portfolio, either directly as such or (more commonly) by holding sinecure posts such as Lord Privy Seal, or otherwise empty titles such as First Secretary of State. Certain other cabinet ministers are in a somewhat hybrid position, where they have a portfolio, but do not head a government department; the Lord President of the Council being such an example, where that office has accreted a collection of responsibilities over time, but which does not have a Lord President's Department attached to it. Whilst generally the most powerful and/or prestigious members of the Cabinet head critical ministries such as the Foreign Office, ministers without portfolio can also be important components, for example Michael Heseltine as Deputy Prime Minister in the Second Major ministry. By far the most powerful Cabinet Minister, the Prime Minister, heads no department, though the Prime Minister's Office co-ordinates their oversight of the whole government.

The collective co-ordinating function of the Cabinet is reinforced by the statutory position that all the Secretaries of State jointly hold the same office, and can exercise the same powers. This does not, however, apply to the non-secretaries of state in the Cabinet such as the Leader of the House of Commons (when such office of Cabinet rank). Technically, therefore, the Cabinet is composed of many more people than legal offices, since the Secretary of Stateship is actually in commission, as is the position of Lord High Treasurer, with the Prime Minister and Chancellor being the First and Second Lords of the Treasury respectively.

The Cabinet is the ultimate decision-making body of the executive within the Westminster system of government in traditional constitutional theory. This interpretation was originally put across in the work of nineteenth century constitutionalists such as Walter Bagehot, who described the Cabinet as the "efficient secret" of the British political system in his book The English Constitution. The political and decision-making authority of the cabinet has been gradually reduced over the last several decades, with some claiming its role has been usurped by a "prime ministerial" government. In the modern political era, the Prime Minister releases information concerning Cabinet rank; a list detailing the seniority of all Cabinet ministers.

The Cabinet is the executive committee of Her Majesty's Privy Council, a body which has legislative, judicial and executive functions, and whose large membership includes members of the Opposition. Its decisions are generally implemented either under the existing powers of individual government departments, or by Orders in Council.

Central Office of Information

The Central Office of Information (COI) was the UK government's marketing and communications agency. Its Chief Executive reported to the Minister for the Cabinet Office. It was a non-ministerial department, and became an executive agency and a trading fund, recovering its costs from the other departments, executive agencies and publicly funded bodies which used its services.

It was established in 1946 as the successor to the wartime Ministry of Information. It worked with Whitehall departments and public bodies to produce information campaigns on issues that affected the lives of British citizens, from health and education to benefits, rights and welfare.

COI celebrated its 60th anniversary in 2006 with several events including a film season at the National Film Theatre and a poll to find Britain's favourite public information film on the BBC website.From 2010, governmental spending on marketing fell considerably. This was because of the Coalition Government's policy to support only essential campaigns. As a result, the Government announced that COI would be closed and its remaining functions transferred to the Cabinet Office.The Central Office of Information closed on 30 December 2011.

Chief Mouser to the Cabinet Office

The Chief Mouser to the Cabinet Office is the title of the official resident cat of the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom at 10 Downing Street. Only four cats, Humphrey, Sybil, Larry and Freya, have been given the title officially; other cats were given this title affectionately, usually by the British press. There has been a resident Treasury or Downing Street cat employed as a mouser and pet since the reign of Henry VIII, when Cardinal Wolsey, who assumed office in 1515, placed his cat by his side while acting in his judicial capacity as Lord Chancellor.

Civil Service (United Kingdom)

Her Majesty's Home Civil Service, also known as Her Majesty's Civil Service or the Home Civil Service, is the permanent bureaucracy or secretariat of Crown employees that supports Her Majesty's Government, which is composed of a cabinet of ministers chosen by the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, as well as two of the three devolved administrations: the Scottish Government and the Welsh Government, but not the Northern Ireland Executive.

As in other states that employ the Westminster political system, Her Majesty's Home Civil Service forms an inseparable part of the British government. The executive decisions of government ministers are implemented by HM Civil Service. Civil servants are employees of the Crown and not of the British parliament. Civil servants also have some traditional and statutory responsibilities which to some extent protect them from being used for the political advantage of the party in power. Senior civil servants may be called to account to Parliament.

In general use, the term civil servant in the United Kingdom does not include all public sector employees; although there is no fixed legal definition, the term is usually defined as a "servant of the Crown working in a civil capacity who is not the holder of a political (or judicial) office; the holder of certain other offices in respect of whose tenure of office special provision has been made; [or] a servant of the Crown in a personal capacity paid from the Civil List". As such, the civil service does not include government ministers (who are politically appointed), members of the British Armed Forces, the police, officers of local government authorities or quangos of the Houses of Parliament, employees of the National Health Service (NHS), or staff of the Royal Household. As at the end of March 2018 there were 430,075 civil servants in the Home Civil Service, this is up 2.5% on the previous year.There are two other administratively separate civil services in the United Kingdom. One is for Northern Ireland (the Northern Ireland Civil Service); the other is the foreign service (Her Majesty's Diplomatic Service). The heads of these services are members of the Permanent Secretaries Management Group.

Deputy Prime Minister of the United Kingdom

The Deputy Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (DPM) is a senior member of the Cabinet of the United Kingdom. The office of the Deputy Prime Minister is not a permanent position, existing only at the discretion of the Prime Minister, who may appoint to other offices – such as First Secretary of State – to give seniority to a particular cabinet minister. Due to the two offices tending not to coincide, and both representing the Prime Minister's deputy, journalists will often refer to the First Secretary of State as the Deputy PM. More recently, the functions of this office have been exercised by the Minister for the Cabinet Office.

Unlike analogous offices in some other nations, such as the Vice President of the United States or the Deputy Prime Minister of Ireland (or Tánaiste), the British deputy prime minister possesses no special constitutional powers as such, though he or she will always have particular responsibilities in government. The DPM does not assume the duties and powers of the Prime Minister in the latter's absence, illness, or death, such as the powers to seek a dissolution of Parliament, appoint peers or brief the sovereign.

The Deputy Prime Minister does not automatically succeed the Prime Minister when the latter is incapacitated, or resigns from the leadership of his or her party. The designation of someone to the role of Deputy Prime Minister may provide additional practical status within the cabinet, enabling exercise of de facto, if not de jure, power.

In a coalition government, such as the 2010–2015 coalition government between the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats, the appointment of the leader of the smaller party (in the 2010 case, Nick Clegg, leader of the Liberal Democrats) as Deputy Prime Minister is done to give that person more authority within the Cabinet to enforce the coalition's agreed-upon agenda. The Deputy Prime Minister usually deputises for the Prime Minister at official functions, such as Prime Minister's Questions.

Government Digital Service

The Government Digital Service is a unit of the Government of the United Kingdom's Cabinet Office tasked with transforming the provision of online public services. It was formed in April 2011 to implement the 'Digital by Default' strategy proposed by a report produced for the Cabinet Office in 2010 called 'Directgov 2010 and beyond: revolution not evolution'. It is overseen by the Public Expenditure Executive (Efficiency & Reform). GDS is primarily based in the Whitechapel Building, London. Its Director General is Kevin Cunnington.

Joint Intelligence Committee (United Kingdom)

The Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) is an interagency deliberative body responsible for intelligence assessment, coordination and oversight of the Secret Intelligence Service, Security Service, GCHQ and Defence Intelligence. The JIC is supported by the Joint Intelligence Organisation under the Cabinet Office.

Minister for the Cabinet Office

The Minister for the Cabinet Office is a position in the Cabinet Office of the United Kingdom. The office has no statutory footing or recognition, and is unpaid. Every individual who has held the office has therefore also been appointed to a sinecure office to secure a seat at cabinet and a salary.

Since 2018, it has functioned as an alternative title to Deputy Prime Minister or First Secretary of State.

National Police Agency (Japan)

The National Police Agency (警察庁, Keisatsu-chō) is an agency administered by the National Public Safety Commission of the Cabinet Office of the Cabinet of Japan, and is the central agency of the Japanese police system, and the central coordinating agency of law enforcement in situations of national emergency in Japan.

Unlike comparable bodies such as the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, the NPA does not have any operational units of its own except for the Imperial Guard. Instead, its role is to determine general standards and policies, although in national emergencies or large-scale disasters the agency is authorized to take command of Prefectural Police Departments.

As of 2017, the NPA has a strength of approximately 7,800 officers: 2,100 police officers, 900 Imperial guards and 4,800 police staff.

National Security Council (United Kingdom)

The National Security Council (NSC) of the United Kingdom is a Cabinet Committee tasked with overseeing all issues related to national security, intelligence coordination, and defence strategy. The terms of reference of the National Security Council are to consider matters relating to national security, foreign policy, defence, cyber security, resilience, energy and resource security.

Non-departmental public body

In the United Kingdom, non-departmental public body (NDPB) is a classification applied by the Cabinet Office, Treasury, the Scottish Government and the Northern Ireland Executive to quangos (quasi-autonomous non-governmental organisations). NDPBs are not an integral part of any government department and carry out their work at arm's length from ministers, although ministers are ultimately responsible to Parliament for the activities of bodies sponsored by their department.

The term includes the four types of NDPB (executive, advisory, tribunal and independent monitoring boards) but excludes public corporations and public broadcasters (BBC, Channel 4 and S4C).


Whitehall is a road in the City of Westminster, Central London, which forms the first part of the A3212 road from Trafalgar Square to Chelsea. It is the main thoroughfare running south from Trafalgar Square towards Parliament Square. The street is recognised as the centre of the Government of the United Kingdom and is lined with numerous departments and ministries, including the Ministry of Defence, Horse Guards and the Cabinet Office. Consequently, the name 'Whitehall' is used as a metonym for the British civil service and government, and as the geographic name for the surrounding area.

The name was taken from the Palace of Whitehall that was the residence of Kings Henry VIII through to William III, before its destruction by fire in 1698; only the Banqueting House survived. Whitehall was originally a wide road that led to the front of the palace; the route to the south was widened in the 18th century following the destruction of the palace.

As well as government buildings, the street is known for its memorial statues and monuments, including Britain's primary war memorial, the Cenotaph. The Whitehall Theatre, now the Trafalgar Studios, has been popular for farce comedies since the mid-20th century.

Prime Minister's Office

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