The world is changing. And it’s changing in ways that, as a Civil Service, we can’t afford to ignore. Technology is revolutionising how the public buy goods and services and manage other aspects of their lives. They rightly expect to be able to deal with government in the same way - online, on demand, often through a smartphone or tablet. At the same time, the face of society itself is changing – it’s more diverse than it's ever been.
At this year’s Civil Service Live, taking place in five cities across Scotland, England and Wales, we are launching our vision for 'A brilliant Civil Service'. One that is capable of serving modern Britain. One that truly reflects the people it serves and provides opportunity for talented people to fulfil their potential, regardless of their background.
Public trust in civil servants is now at record levels. This is hard-earned. Over recent years you have proved again and again your ability to work more collaboratively, to be more innovative, to deliver more for less – building high-quality services around the needs of users at a lower cost. If we are to become the Civil Service described by the vision we must continue to work in this way.
This vision for the Civil Service of the future, developed with the help of many, has four main elements:
- Improved outcomes – a much stronger focus on the difference we can make for citizens, not just on processes and procedures
- Effective leadership – with confident leaders who inspire and empower colleagues to be the best they can be
- Skilled people – our commitment to building a broader set of skills in the Civil Service, to make us more effective and offer more varied careers that will help us retain and attract the best talent
- A great place to work – creating a truly inclusive environment, in open, modern workplaces, with the technology to get the job done
All supported by the enduring and universally admired values of the Civil Service - integrity, honesty, impartiality and objectivity - which underpin everything we do.
Pretending change isn’t happening is not an option. Keeping pace with it is a necessity. But our vision goes further than this; it is about embracing change, and grasping the opportunities it presents to become brilliant in everything we do.
As leaders of the Civil Service, our job is to help you to do this. We will forge new career paths; increase opportunities for all civil servants; help departments to work more seamlessly together across boundaries; provide more options for individuals to gain experience and learn skills; and create workplaces that are fit for purpose, with modern facilities and up-to-date technology.
That’s what’s in it for you – to be part of the best Civil Service in the world and the most inclusive employer in the country. To be proud of what we do as civil servants every day; and for everyone in the country to take pride in us.
So, join us on this journey. There’s a role for everyone in taking responsibility for improving, exploring development opportunities, doing things differently, and inspiring colleagues. If you haven’t already, come along to the Civil Service Live event nearest you to hear more - after Glasgow, today, we will be visiting Sheffield, Coventry, Cardiff and London. Each one of these is built around the vision's four themes.
Then go out, lead effectively, develop your skills, deliver the best service, and help us become "A Brilliant Civil Service" for the country, your fellow citizens and yourselves.
Comment by Smoggy posted on
Pretending change isn’t happening is not an option. The world is changing. And (are you aware that starting a sentence with AND is not good grammar? I went to a Comprehensive School and only gained CSEs, but I know that AND is a joining word. If I received a letter with a sentence beginning with AND, I’d highlight it in red and send it back with a message advising the author to go back to school!) it’s changing in ways that, as a Civil Service, we can’t afford to ignore. Technology is revolutionising how the public buy goods and services and manage other aspects of their lives. They rightly expect to be able to deal with government in the same way - online, on demand, often through a smartphone or tablet.
OK, yes the world is changing - but not everyone is moving with it. Whilst I have a personal e-mail address and access to the Internet (via laptop and not via a mobile phone), I'm not on social media. Also they are still a lot of people in this world who like good old fashioned service - as the amount of taxpayers we’re having to turn away from the door with a flea in their ear and a leaflet, just goes to prove (no they're not all elderly or disabled).
Had there been a public consultation 3 years, ago then the taxpayers would have stated that they would've like to have seen the Enquiry Centres remain open (the start of the downwards spiral, as no public consultation has been held regarding the "farce" known as Building our Future and what effect office closures will have on the local economies). They are numerous amounts of people who have been frustrated by the telephones or the Internet and turn to their local office in frustration. Also harking back to good old fashioned service, many people visit the office as their first point of contact.
Public trust in civil servants is now at record levels. I notice that this only states record levels and does not state "HIGH" levels of trust.
Comment by Glenn Beany posted on
I am a hard working civil servant with 29 years experience. I have always put myself out for the sake of business needs, staying late, working at home at night (out of the goodness of my heart) and taking on extra jobs. I have always received glowing appraisals with top grades. However I am on max pay and I opted out of the paydeal as it was financially of no benefit to me. I am appalled to find that the vague threats that management made before the cut off point for opting out have now started to come to fruition e.g people who have not opted out will get all the perks eg advancement opportunities, leave of their choice, their non contracted days off, all at the expense of those who opted out. This may not break the discrimination laws, but it is certainly unethical and emotionally immature behaviour!
Comment by Chris Moore posted on
In HMRC we have embraced change throughout the 30 years I have been in the department so I find the tone somewhat patronising. Many of my skilled colleagues have left under various terms as their offices were closed their experience seemed to be attributed little value. Queries/challenges to applicability/usefulness of new technology not answered. Several senior leaders have left in the last few years with their apparent brief unfinished n doubt with commensurate bonuses-their job done. But at least the new influx can be moulded to fit the bright shiny new Civil Service. Good Luck and am just glad us dinosaurs are becoming extinct.
Comment by Spencer posted on
1. More for less
2. More for less
3. More for less
4. More for less
All under the guise of change
Comment by Jane posted on
1. Improved Outcomes
We have been getting so sophisticated we have turned inwards. It's not now about the general public who we serve but about running ourselves. The amount of time and resources spent on corporate activities wouldn't stand up to scrutiny by the general public. Let's focus on them.
2. Effective Leadership
It is starting to feel like there is no effective leadership. We lose 100s of staff, go through MoG changes and deal with the after effects of Brexit and yet our senior leaders do not take a step back and assess areas of work which we might stop in order to reflect the fact that we have less staff and extra work. They are on a treadmill and none of them are stepping off and making realistic strategic decisions. We have "flexible" working but it's another name for getting staff to work at night and at the weekend for free to keep their head above water. The problem with that is that it imposes unrealistic deadlines on others involved and makes workloads snowball for everyone. No-one is taking control.
3. Skilled People
A joke for those of us at the lower end of the grading scale. We are reduced to Civil Service Learning and most of that is e-learning. It is extremely demoralising when I authorise hundreds or thousands of pounds spent on others and yet if I wanted the same amount spent on me by an external training body I would be turned down.
Lastly, "Brilliant" is about the worst word to choose for this initiative. After years of spending cuts and stagnant pay you cannot possibly call the Civil Service brilliant. It is about as out of touch as the "haves" were in the Brexit vote and shows a complete lack of empathy and even an amount of condescension for the ordinary civil servant from those at the top.
Comment by anon2 posted on
I work for the DWP. I love my job and many of us make a real difference to peoples lives.
However, I find the thought that the civil service is a 'great' place to work laughable, if not downright absurd.
The IT is not fit for purpose and frustrating in the extreme. We are understaffed and some days I will have to see 30 people, all on different benefits. I wont be able to take my breaks and of course, if targets are not reached there is an enquiry!
Training is almost non existant. When we became all purpose advisers we had about 2 hours training to learn how ESA and IS worked. Mistakes are being made and guess who is held accountable? Why yes, the undertrained staff.
We might get a payrise, but to do so we have to agree to work late and on saturdays. 1 evening a week and 1 saturday in 4, no its not a lot, but who really believes it will work this way?
And as for the sickness policy, it is in its self sick. For disabled staff it is a nightmare. Take time off sick and we are penalised on our return. All to help us of course. Put a long term employee on probation why not, after that we will be better wont we?
Morale is the lowest I have ever seen.
At Christmas we dont even get a packet of savers biscuits from management. There are rewards that can be issued for good work, but only the favoured few get those.
The DWP is supposed to be an 'Exemplar Employer', for all I know all departments are, but really if this is the case they need to try a lot harder and get to understand how the people at the front line actually work.
Comment by Ray posted on
The 4 aims are admirable but so far from current reality
"Improved outcomes " rather than concentrating on proceedures and processes -my department , as I suspect others are, is obsessed with the former at the expense of the latter, there is no chance of using your initiative as staff are obsessed with "quality checks "
Effective leadership ? Members of the senior management team with no experience of any of the work done by staff earning inflated salaries and bonuses whilst urging the rank and file not to strike for better pay ?
Skilled people -no the aim of the civil service is, as stated by a previous minister is the "right staff at the minimum cost "
Great places to work-if you wish to spend thousands annually to commute to new offices , as your building leases with tax avoiding landlords cease .. im amazed that "yes minister "needed scriptwriters
Comment by John posted on
With respect, "Our vision for 'A Brilliant Civil Service' – and what it means for you"
It means absolutely NOTHING.
After 20 years in MOD, I am counting the days left to my retirement. It can not come soon enough. (Still another 13 years to go!)
Appalling changes to terms and conditions of employment, no pay rises - in reality these amount to actual decreases. Increased pension contributions, removal of spine points, removal of excess fares, forced relocation, Lack of training, One person doing the work of 3 people. Lack of recruitment etc. Need I explain further???
I only stay due to my loyalty. Patience is a virtue but I have almost had enough.
Comment by Mr B Jones posted on
A 'Brilliant Civil Service'? How is this vision going to be measured?
If the civil service was a business it would be bankrupt.
Not worth sharing any other views because those in the position of power simply don't listen.
Comment by Gavin Low posted on
A "brilliant Civil Service" appears to mean making 150,000 people redundant and attacking the Civil Service Compensation Scheme (to make it cheaper to sack people.)
The vision is a good one - we all want an effective Civil Service which helps the public. But it's very depressing to see what the Government intends to do in practice.
Comment by Paul posted on
The Government is cutting civil service compensation and pensions. This will be detrimental to most public servants except for those at the very top. Can we at least be spared the accompanying "PR" narrative?
With proposals like this, it comes as no surprise that ordinary people are losing any confidence in and respect for the British establishment, but please Sir John spare us the spin. Nobody is interested in this shallow 1980s style management speak anymore. These proposals are reprehensible. I hope that the unions successfully take you to court.
Comment by Kenny posted on
"Brilliant" may be a laudable ambition but, given the changes in terms and conditions, many reflected on this thread, and the considerable IT contstraints, also outlined above, is it not more realistic to restrict our short term aims to remaining "effective", despite the challenges, rather than raising the bar to "brilliant"? It's simply unrealistic to expect such a radical improvement with everything else that's going on and quite demoralising if the leaders don't realise the impact of such an unachievable objective that seems to ignore the current state of the Civil Service.
Comment by Lesley Ennin posted on
A mirage in my view. I have never seen staff so demoralised and this has been going on for a few years after years of terms and conditions slowly being eroded although contractually agreed. Experienced staff leaving because they can't take it anymore and quite a number staying on because they can't afford financially to go. With all this going on I still see staff soldiering on, working long hours trying to do the work of two or three people because there is so much change and staff turnover. I'm afraid I couldn't recommend the Civil Service to young graduates as a great place to work. Very sad state of affairs and a lot of work to be done before we can get to that 'best Civil Service in the world' position..
Comment by JC posted on
Q1: To become 'the best Civil Service in the world' and 'the most inclusive employer in the country', which central government bureaucracies in other countries and UK employers are we meant to be compared against?
Q2: By what standards will these aspirations be measured?
To conclude, by what targets would you define as being the 'best' and 'most inclusive'?
Comment by Paul posted on
The vision for a 'Brilliant Civil Service' when we've been subject to constant resource cuts, minimal pay increases and no pay progression for years is insulting. My organisation is increasingly de-skilling: the brightest younger employees are leaving for better paid jobs in the private sector, and the most experienced employees are retiring early as they seem to have had enough. I used to recommend careers here - I no longer feel I can do that, which is very sad.
Comment by Anna posted on
No 4. Creating a truly inclusive environment.
How will this be achieved when the majority of BAME staff in the Home Office are AA - EO level? I have been in the HO for a long time, little has changed. When I first started there were few EOs. No one seems to be able to explain why the SCS is still under representative in this area. There is little prospect of promotion with so few jobs. How are you going to convince me that ' A Brilliant Civil Service' will be different in this respect? Did you consult BAME staff on this issue prior to launching this vision?
Comment by Gill posted on
John - I have been an EO for 8 years with Box 1 performance markings in the last few years but I am still only just above the band minimum. The Employee deal means that I will now be paid the same as my colleagues, how is that not making the Civil Service a better place to work? I understand that those on the Max are not happy about the deal because of the change in contracts but they have to remember that they have been paid considerably more than their colleagues for a number of years. There are many people who have been recruited more recently who are already on these contracts.
We have to think about our customers, increasingly we will be dealing with people who are in work as part of Universal credit and we need to be flexible with our working hours.
One evening per week and one Saturday in 4 is not a major ask.
Colleagues with caring responsiblities etc will be able to have a discussion about how they can be accommodated and we can work together as a team to allow this flexibility to continue.
Comment by John posted on
Gill....under your circumstances totally agree. The employee deal is great for you. No doubt you signed up. I think however the comments from Steve above underline why us "oldies" are so bitter. It's a great deal for some, but offers no reward for experienced staff who have spent many years building up their expertise. I wish you all the best for the future.
Comment by lorraine posted on
Agree Sally, I have to email the links home and read them in my own time. I love the sound of the vision but acknowledge pretty much most of the comments above. My personal opinion is that we are going in the right direction and I do believe with the correct tools we could be an excellent department. However, the last few years have been the most challenging of my 25 years service and I have seriously questioned my own commitment to my department. I have experienced disappointment in the leadership approach and how it has been translated at a local level and regularly have to re-boot my passion for the department.
Comment by William MoD posted on
Sir Jeremy and Mr Manzoni,
I seem to be constantly replying to your articles or blogs, but I felt I had to.
You have, in the blogs and previous articles in the Civil Service World, discussed rewarding specialists and “making the Civil Service a great place to work”. There have been proposals of effective leadership; rewards for skills and staff retention, but none of what I have seen appears to have improved the morale and helped retain the skills needed.
I, again, state that of the first batch of engineering apprentices in MOD Abbey Wood 16 of the 18 have left the MoD. As for Civil Service morale and leadership – I refer you to the last few have your say surveys.
You asked for civil Servants to “join us on this journey”, but I ask – why? What’s in it for me?
I am nearly £800 a year worse off than I was in 2011 and am in a section with 2 of us trying to cover the work of 5.
Can I respectfully ask - will this new-best-thing-since-slice-bread actually achieve any results and do you believe that it has any hope of the short staffed, reducing pay, disillusioned and demoralised Civil Servants joining in?
PS - on reading the above comments - I appear to be following the consensus.
Comment by Steve posted on
Hello is that Cuckoo land? I think it is about time that somebody some where took a reality check. We have a crumbling, frustrating IT infrastucture, a dwindling work force that we cannot recruit to replace, & morale at an all time low...A brilliant civil service? A great place to work?...I wish it were true but it most certainly is not the case.
Comment by Sally Smith posted on
From the comments it seems like a really interesting document. Unfortunatly, due to the antiquated browser versions used in DWP I can only see the first page. The rest of the document appears not to be available as the progress arrows in the Acrobat menu are greyed out! I've tried Internet Explorer and Firefox but neither gives me access to the full document.
Comment by Iain posted on
I have worked for the Civil Service for almost 16 years and I think that this is entirely wrong, lots of good people who were Civil Servants have left over the last 2 years taking valuable skills and experience with then.
Morale in some areas of the Civil Service is very high but overall, it is very low, and this is amongst E1 and E2 grades who earn terribly low wages which are abysmal and do not reflect the hard work which is done daily. Even D grades earn terrible wages but it is from C2 onwards where the wages take off and where the split occurs between higher and lower grades.
I use to love working in the Civil Service but after being severely bullied by a Squadron Leader between 2012 and 2013, I don't have much time for the RAF and I don't care or respect the higher grades of the Civil Service as they earn exorbitant wages for minimal work done.
The Civil Service needs to reform in certain areas, go back to basics in others, cut the wages of the fat cat high grades and to improve the wages of those in low grades to make us feel needed, valued and treated with respect, then perhaps the burning resentment I feel will stop!
Comment by Mark posted on
This is indeed a positive vision moving forward, and a set of values that I will enjoy upholding.
However, I have to agree with Hugh Neill's point regarding the risk of creating barriers for the IT illiterate. There are large numbers of people who do not use the internet in any shape or form outside of work (over 1 in 5 according to the ONS's most recent figures - https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/householdcharacteristics/homeinternetandsocialmediausage)
These are not just pensioners. I work in outreach and have met a number of youths who have never used a computer and do not have smartphones. There is a tendency to assume that all people under 30 are comfortable using (and have access to) this type of technology. This is absolutely not the case, and those who are uncomfortable with or unable to use technology do need to be catered for.
Comment by Maria posted on
Until the absolutely atrocious IT is made fit for purpose the Civil Service CAN NOT acheive brilliance. Waiting for systems to start up only to have them shut down again and again throughout the day. Citrix issues. Losing access to business critical systems and not having that access restored for weeks. Absolute joke. Do these people have ANY idea at all what the actual shop floor is like?????????????????
Comment by Court Clerk posted on
'technology to get the job done', I'm typing this on a PC using Windows XP and one of the programmes I use on a daily basis pre dates Windows!
Comment by Antoni Chmielowski posted on
As others have said yet again the difference between aspiration and reality is huge.
It is laudable to have such great ideas, but unless you can take the staff with you , it is a pointless exercise.
I am a motivated AO in HMRC who does their best to deliver a quality service, but when I get a meagre 0.88% pay increase this year, I work in an office that is well past its sell by date it does get hard to be motivated every day.
The continued drive to cut costs (closing 157 Offices and therefore cutting the headcount) and insisting that everything be done electronically, (when their are certain parts of HMRC that refuse external emails, or by telephone (when they get through) means that we are not providing a customer service which our customers are entitled to.
At some point in the future my motivation may permenantly leave me , which is a shame as I do my best inspite of the current situation.
Comment by Knulp posted on
According to the head of the Civil Service and the Executive Committee, the Civil Service has a bright future. Perhaps for them it is, but for thousands of hard working people within that same service do not feel the same. And as for your four Elements No IT IS NOT A GREAT PLACE TO WORK!!
Comment by Simon Addison posted on
Adopt a staff / people centric approach. Treat staff well and the rest will follow.
I have almost 28 years in. I have never known it so bad.
Comment by Freetalk posted on
Same crumbling edifice, just a new coat of paint.
When will the 'leaders' ever learn that to be inclusive you need to include staff at the start, listen to their ideas, thoughts and complaints. Don't take the attitude of 'we know best, trust us'.
I believe in the ideals and probably Jeremy and John do also, but really, how often have we heard before the same message in different ways? Thank you.
Comment by Orla Murphy posted on
In my experience of government and the public sector, a drive to deliver "open, modern workplaces" translates to extremely noisy workplaces with increased unprofessional behaviour.
By all means, reduce deskspace and increase hotdesking - we owe it to the public to make our use of expensive real estate as cost-effective as possible.
However "quiet carriage" style offices (or better still, floors) should be provided in recognition of the fact that not all staff have the option of "working from home" when they need to concentrate.
(It's worth remembering that many people, including some civil service staff, live in precarious and sub-standard, rented accommodation which they may or may not be able to afford to heat in winter).
Comment by John posted on
Utopia...sounds fantastic, and look forward to seeing how you aim to address these challenges.
However, in respect of number 4, can I ask how proposing to change longstanding contracts, with a huge financial penalty if you choose to "opt out", will make DWP a "great place to work"?
Comment by Lee posted on
I understand these issues affect a great number of long standing staff members but you must remember those long standing DWP colleagues in most cases have better contracts and are paid more than those newer colleagues who have recently joined the DWP family.
For these staff this Employee deal is a huge bonus and will enable them to earn the same as a longer serving colleague, perhaps who sits next to them but who earns more for doing the same role.
Making sure all staff earn the same salary and contribute the same towards required working patterns will, in my eyes, make the DWP a great place to work.
Comment by John posted on
The colleagues who recently joined the DWP "family" haven't worked 28 years under an agreed contract only to have this taken away overnight. My only option now is to opt out-which means huge financial difficulty for me. I sympathise with staff on low pay...(which after the last few years is all of us!), but fail to see why this means I long term members of staff should be penalised.
Comment by Steve posted on
The reason most long-standing colleagues have better contracts and are paid more is because they have built up their experience and knowledge over time, some over many years of commitment to the civil service. More recent entrants have to be trained by those more experienced colleagues which means added responsibility.
This should not just simply be ignored and deserves to be rewarded. Pay levels should be based on experience, knowledge, responsibility and length of service.
In any organisation you have to have a ‘rank’ or seniority structure for the effective operation of the business, training and for decision-making so there has to be a ‘tier’ pay system to reflect differing levels of responsibility and reward for that.
A new or recent entrant will have no experience or knowledge about the job; no responsibility, and at first, will be reliant on senior colleagues for everything they do. A situation where a new entrant receives the same pay as the more experienced colleague (say with 30 or more years’ experience) then creates further ‘inequality’ in terms of the level of work expectation and responsibility of the more experienced colleague over the very inexperienced. So you have to look at the issue in a wider context; pay is just one aspect of the whole equality issue.
This is one of the reasons I left the PCS union; they say they stand for ‘equality’ but didn’t want to recognise members long-standing service, contribution and commitment as having value enough to be rewarded higher. So I felt they were not protecting my interests anymore.
The old system of pay awarding (in tiers/levels) was fine except for two things firstly, there were too many tiers which needed to be trimmed down and gaps brought closer together and secondly, the system had not been overhauled and modernised in this way for years and lay neglected by government and unions, otherwise it worked ok and was a fair system. based on experience, knowledge and length of service. Also very importantly, it was a ‘one stop shop’ which applied to all civil servants in all dept's.
Nowadays civil service pay levels vary considerably from dep’t to dep’t; it is now a ‘market place’ the result of which means that the pay inequality gap has widened.
Today, each dep’t is allowed to set their own pay level which means that the same job in one dep’t might be paid considerably more in another for exactly the same work! Go Compare! pay inequality for currently advertised AO apprentice posts for the HSE against AO posts for the DWP or civilian security posts in the MOD!
Comment by John posted on
I also left PCS for exactly the same reasons....
At least I voted myself a £10.00 a month pay increase in this respect.
Comment by MoD DE&S - below SCS posted on
I sit beside an old friend that I have worked beside, in various jobs, over the last 16 years.
He got his SPTO (C1) in 2002, 2 years before of me.
He is on the maximum, I am 2 points off the bottom of the scale.
At the current pay increase rate, it'll be another 8 years before I am on the the same as him.
New starts can come into our section, on more than I.
So, yes, this is an aid to some - but how much damage do the rest of us have to suffer?
Comment by Tony posted on
What a brilliant set of ideas!
When will all this happen?
1. I thought we were in Public Service so goes without saying.
2. Effective leaders would be a refreshing change, but they change so often it is difficullt to know who is in the lead. There have been one or two I have followed out of pure curiosity.
3. I would be delighted to use my skills and training in my work, but my job has been steadily de-skilled, by turns outsourced, insourced, privatised, regionalised, centralised and is now unrecognisable as the one I signed up to do.
4. Just do it! Please.
Comment by Hugh Neill posted on
"They rightly expect to be able to deal with government in the same way - online, on demand, often through a smartphone or tablet. " Really? Has anyone asked the IT illiterate old age pensioner at number 63, or the unemployed young person with no money for a smartphone or tablet and who might need support from face to face contact with people.
"Public trust in civil servants is now at record levels". Out of interest, what evidence source are you using. Such evidence as I could find seemed a little equivocal:
And of course, if it is increasing it might seem perverse to indulge in a headlong rush to replace them with IT.
Don't get me wrong - I do understand that we have to move with the times, and that there may be real benefits to implementing some of those changes. But there will also be losses, and risks to the social fabric, and we should try not to overdo the argument for change by dressing up a necessity (reducing cost to The Treasury) as a new sunny uplands, free of storm clouds, and that everyone has what it takes to march towards.
Comment by Bill posted on
That poster is interesting, and seems to sum up a dream for how the Civil Service should be.
Unfortunately it is far from how it is, and how it will continue to be.
We can dream.......