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. 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, Whitehall, London
|Headquarters||70 Whitehall, London, England|
|Annual budget||£2.1 billion (current) & £400 million (capital) for 2011–12 |
The Cabinet Office's core functions are:
- 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.
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.
- 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:
|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|
|Chloe Smith 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 Office also supports the work of:
Cabinet committees have two key purposes:
- 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. 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.
The Cabinet Office has the following responsibilities at a UK national level.
- political and constitutional reform
- the Home Civil Service
- the Electoral Commission
- the Boundary Commissions
- the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority
Its main counterparts in the devolved nations are as follows:
This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (May 2010)
Northern Ireland 
- Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister (co-ordinating the Northern Ireland Executive)
- Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment (social enterprise)
- Department of Finance and Personnel (the Northern Ireland Civil Service)
- Department for Social Development (civil society)
This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (May 2010)
- "Annual Report 2013–2014" (PDF). Cabinet Office. Retrieved 22 September 2014.
- Budget 2011 (PDF). London: HM Treasury. 2011. p. 48. Archived from the original (PDF) on 1 August 2011. Retrieved 4 December 2014.
- This should be distinguished from the Prime Minister's personal staff who form the Prime Minister's Office.
- "Cabinet Office List of Ministerial Responsibilities, July 2010" (PDF). Retrieved 30 September 2014.
- Note on development from National Archives
- "National Archive Series reference CAB 103". Retrieved 30 September 2014.
- "Our ministers". GOV.UK. Retrieved 26 July 2016.
- "A Guide to Cabinet and Cabinet Committee Business" (PDF). London: Cabinet Office. 2008: 44. Archived from the original (PDF) on 27 March 2009.
- Departments (Transfer and Assignment of Functions) Order (Northern Ireland) 1999