Departments of the Government of the United Kingdom

  (Redirected from British government departments)

The departments of the Government of the United Kingdom are the principal units through which it exercises executive authority. A department is composed of employed officials, known as civil servants, and is politically accountable through a minister. Most major departments are headed by a secretary of state, who sits in the cabinet, and typically supported by a team of junior ministers.

There are also a number of non-ministerial departments. These are headed by senior civil servants, but are linked to a ministerial department through whose ministers they are accountable to Parliament. Departments serve to implement the policies of Her Majesty's Government, regardless of the government's political composition.[1] As a consequence, officials within government departments are generally required to adhere to varying levels of political impartiality and neutrality.


There are two types of government departments.

Ministerial departments are led politically by a government minister, normally a member of the cabinet, and cover matters that require direct political oversight. For most departments, the government minister in question is known as a secretary of state. He or she is generally supported by a team of junior ministers. The administrative management of a department is led by a senior civil servant, known as a permanent secretary. Subordinate to these ministerial departments are executive agencies. An executive agency has a degree of autonomy to perform an operational function and report to one or more specific government departments, which will set the funding and strategic policy for the agency. At "arm's length" from a parent or sponsor department there can be several non-departmental public bodies (NDPBs), known colloquially as quasi-autonomous non-governmental organisations (Quangos).

Non-ministerial departments generally cover matters for which direct political oversight is judged unnecessary or inappropriate. They are headed by senior civil servants. Some fulfil a regulatory or inspection function, and their status is therefore intended to protect them from political interference. Some are headed by Permanent Secretaries or Second Permanent Secretaries.


Ministerial departmentsEdit

Image Name Establishment Political Leader Head Civil Servant Headquarters Size Budget
  Attorney General's Office
1315 Attorney General for England and Wales
Rt Hon Suella Braverman MP
Director General
Rowena Collins Rice
20 Victoria Street, London ???? £600 million
  Cabinet Office
December 1916 Minister for the Cabinet Office
Rt Hon Michael Gove MP
Permanent Secretary
John Manzoni
70 Whitehall, London 1668 £2,100 million
  Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
14 July 2016 Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Rt Hon Alok Sharma MP
Permanent Secretary
Alex Chisholm
1 Victoria Street, London 3,000 £13,800 million
  Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
3 May 1997 Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Rt Hon Oliver Dowden CBE MP
Permanent Secretary
Sarah Healey
100 Parliament Street, London 900 £1,400 million
  Department for Education
10 May 2010 Secretary of State for Education
Rt Hon Gavin Williamson MP
Permanent Secretary
Jonathan Slater
Sanctuary Buildings, Great Smith Street, London 3,885 £58,200 million
  Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
8 June 2001 Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Rt Hon George Eustice MP
Permanent Secretary
Tamara Finkelstein
Nobel House, 17 Smith Square, London 3,500 £2,200 million
Department for International Trade
14 July 2016 Secretary of State for International Trade & President of the Board of Trade
Rt Hon Liz Truss MP
Permanent Secretary
Antonia Romeo
3 Whitehall Place, London ???? ???
  Department for Transport
29 May 2002 Secretary of State for Transport
Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP
Permanent Secretary
Bernadette Kelly CB
Great Minster House, 33 Horseferry Road, London 18,245 £5,300 million
  Department for Work and Pensions
8 June 2001 Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

Rt Hon Dr Thérèse Coffey MP

Permanent Secretary
Peter Schofield CB
Caxton House, Tothill, London 84,718 £176,300 million
  Department of Health and Social Care
25 July 1988 Secretary of State for Health and Social Care
Rt Hon Matt Hancock MP
Permanent Secretary
Sir Chris Wormald KCB
39 Victoria Street, London 2,160 £116,400 million
  Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office
17 October 1968 Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs
Rt Hon Dominic Raab MP
Permanent Secretary
Sir Philip Barton KCMG OBE
King Charles Street, London 12,826 £2,500 million
  HM Treasury
1126[a] Chancellor of the Exchequer
Rt Hon Rishi Sunak MP
Permanent Secretary to the Treasury
Sir Thomas Scholar KCB
1 Horse Guards Road, London 1169 £3,800 million
  Home Office
2 March 1782 Secretary of State for the Home Department
Rt Hon Priti Patel MP
Permanent Secretary
Sir Philip Rutnam KCB
2 Marsham Street, London 27,546 £8,900 million
  Ministry of Defence
1 April 1964 Secretary of State for Defence
Rt Hon Ben Wallace MP
Permanent Secretary
Stephen Lovegrove CB
Main Building, Whitehall, London 56,860 £46,000 million
  Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
6 May 2006 Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government
Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP
Permanent Secretary
Melanie Dawes CB
2 Marsham Street, London ???? £28,200 million
  Ministry of Justice
9 May 2007 Secretary of State for Justice & Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain
Rt Hon Robert Buckland QC MP
Permanent Secretary & Clerk of the Crown in Chancery
Sir Richard Heaton KCB
102 Petty France, London >77,000 £8,200 million
  Northern Ireland Office
24 March 1972 Secretary of State for Northern Ireland
Rt Hon Brandon Lewis CBE MP
Permanent Secretary
Sir Jonathan Stephens KCB
Stormont House, Stormont Estate, Belfast
1 Horse Guards Road, London
167 £23 million
  Office of the Advocate General for Scotland
19 May 1999 Advocate General of Scotland
Rt Hon The Lord Keen of Elie QC MP
Neil Taylor
Victoria Quay, Edinburgh ???? ????
  Office of the Leader of the House of Commons
4 April 1721 Leader of the House of Commons & Lord President of the Council
Rt Hon Jacob Rees-Mogg MP
Palace of Westminster, London ???? ????
  Office of the Leader of the House of Lords
4 April 1721 Leader of the House of Lords & Lord Privy Seal
Rt Hon The Baroness Evans of Bowes Park MBE PC
1 Horseguards Road, London ???? ????
  Scotland Office
13 June 2003 Secretary of State for Scotland
Rt Hon Alister Jack MP
Gillian McGregor CBE
Dover House, Whitehall, London ???? £8 million
  Wales Office
1 July 1999 Secretary of State for Wales
Rt Hon Simon Hart MP
Glynne Jones CBE
Gwydyr House, Whitehall, London 52 £4.7 million
  Export Credits Guarantee Department
1919 Secretary of State for International Trade & President of the Board of Trade
Rt Hon Liz Truss MP
Chief Executive
Louis Taylor
1 Horseguards Road, Whitehall, London ???? ????


  1. ^ This is the date of the establishment of the department; the position of treasurer (now the Lords Commissioners of the Treasury) is attested to have existed from 1066.[2][3][4][5]

Non-ministerial departmentsEdit

List of executive agencies reporting to each department of the British governmentEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "How government works". British Government. Retrieved 12 January 2016.
  2. ^ C. Warren Hollister - The Origins of the English Treasury The English Historical Review Vol. 93, No. 367 (Apr., 1978) Retrieved 2012-06-25
  3. ^ Open Domesday Retrieved 2012-06-25
  4. ^ HM Treasury:History
  5. ^ D C Douglas - William the Conqueror: The Norman Impact Upon England University of California Press, 1 May 1967 ISBN 0520003500 Retrieved 2012-06-25

External linksEdit