Dame Patricia Hodgson to chair Policy Exchange’s Reform of Government Commission on the future of the Civil Service

Oct 19, 2020

Policy Exchange is today delighted to announce a Reform of Government Commission, Chaired by Dame Patricia Hodgson, which will examine how the Civil Service can be improved and modernised. Dame Patricia’s overview of the Commission’s work, which argues that “the unprecedented challenges which the UK faces require a fundamental assessment of how best the machinery of government can be envisioned and equipped for the new world,” can be read here.

The Reform of Government Commission will go back to first principles and ask: what sort of Civil Service do we want? What should its ethos be? How should accountability be maximised through clearer lines of responsibility? How can it better serve governments of all hues?

We will draw on the expertise of a wide range of leading practitioners. Focus groups, polling and an evidence-gathering “roadshow” will be used to produce authoritative, useful research that leads to better government.

The Commission – which will build on Policy Exchange’s well-received 2019 paper, Whitehall Reimagined– is made up of the following members:

Dame Patricia Hodgson (Chair), former Chairman of Ofcom and former Principal of Newnham College, Cambridge
Rt Hon Hazel Blears, former Communities Secretary and former Chairwoman of the Labour Party
Rt Hon Lord Hill of Oareford, former European Commissioner
Rt Hon Sir Lockwood Smith, former New Zealand High Commissioner to the UK and former Speaker of the New Zealand House of Representatives
Lord Macpherson of Earl’s Court, former Treasury Permanent Secretary
Trevor Phillips, Senior Fellow at Policy Exchange and former Chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission
Rt Hon Marquess of Salisbury, former Leader of the House of Lords
General Sir Peter Wall, former Chief of the General Staff
Lord Caine of Temple Newsam, former Special Adviser to six Secretaries of State for Northern Ireland
Rt Hon Baroness Morgan of Cotes, former Education Secretary
Ben Houchen, Tees Valley Mayor

It will examine five areas:

  1. Context and challenge.
  2. Capacity, skills and rewards.
  3. Structures of Government.
  4. Digital, data and new technologies.
  5. Connecting with the public.

Dame Patricia Hodgson said: “The unprecedented challenges which the UK faces require a fundamental assessment of how best the machinery of government can be envisioned and equipped for the new world. The commission will pay tribute to the professionalism and achievements of the Civil Service under recent pressures, while examining the strains and problems that recent crises have revealed. It is important to go back to first principles and explore the founding vision for a professional and independent Civil Service.”

“Above all, bearing in mind successive failed attempts in the past, we will focus on the execution of Civil Service reform – the ‘how’ and the ‘who’, as much as the ‘why’ and the ‘what’. We will not shy away from asking difficult questions and recommending radical changes where necessary, which are likely to affect ministers, political advisers and private sector consultants, as well as officials.”

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