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Cabinet Office

This article is about the Cabinet Office in the United Kingdom. For other Cabinet Offices, see Cabinet Office (disambiguation).
Cabinet Office
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File:Cabinet Office logo.svg
File:Cabinet Office, Whitehall.jpg
Cabinet Office, Whitehall
Department overview
Formed December 1916
Preceding Department Committee of Imperial Defence
Jurisdiction United Kingdom
Headquarters 70 Whitehall, London, England
Employees 1,668[1] FTE
Annual budget £2.1 billion (current) & £400 million (capital) for 2011-12 [2]
Minister responsible The Rt Hon. Matthew Hancock 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
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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.


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.


The department was formed in December 1916 from the secretariat of the Committee of Imperial Defence[5] 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 originally founded in 1906 as part of the Committee for Imperial Defence and is concerned with Official Histories[6]
  • 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:[7]

Minister Rank Portfolio
The Rt Hon David Cameron MP Prime Minister
First Lord of the Treasury
Minister for the Civil Service
Head of government
The Rt Hon Oliver Letwin MP Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Overall responsibility for the work of the Cabinet Office, Advising the Prime Minister on the implementation of Government policy, coordinating constitutional reform, the resilience of the UK's infrastructure, reducing regulatory burdens through the Red Tape Challenge
The Rt Hon Matthew Hancock MP Minister for the Cabinet Office and Paymaster General Civil Service reform, Public sector efficiency
Rob Wilson MP Parliamentary Secretary (Civil society) Big Society agenda; Charities; Volunteering; Social Enterprise, UK statistics
John Penrose MP Parliamentary Secretary Constitutional Reform, including elections and electoral registration, Parliamentary constituency boundaries, oversight of the devolution settlement, constitutional policy, including Crown affairs, political parties and referendums policy and democratic engagement
Robert Halfon MP Minister without portfolio

All of the Cabinet Office's ministers are Cabinet members; or are allowed to attend Cabinet when their brief is on the agenda.[8]

The Cabinet Secretary and Head of the Home Civil Service is Sir Jeremy Heywood; the Permanent Secretary is Richard Heaton.

The Cabinet Office also supports the work of:


Cabinet Committees have two key purposes:[9]

  • 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.[10]


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

Its main counterparts in the devolved nations are as follows:


Northern Ireland [11]


See also


  1. ^ "Annual Report 2013-2014" (PDF). Cabinet Office. Retrieved 22 September 2014. 
  2. ^ Budget 2011 (PDF). London: HM Treasury. 2011. p. 48. 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. ^ Note on development from National Archives
  6. ^ "National Archive Series reference CAB 103". Retrieved 30 September 2014. 
  7. ^ "Our ministers". GOV.UK. Retrieved 12 May 2015. 
  8. ^ "Her Majesty's Government". UK Parliament. Retrieved 30 September 2014. 
  9. ^ "A Guide to Cabinet and Cabinet Committee Business" (PDF). London: Cabinet Office. 2008. p. 44. 
  10. ^
  11. ^ Departments (Transfer and Assignment of Functions) Order (Northern Ireland) 1999

External links

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