David Cameron warned of rift with mandarins

 

David Cameron was warned today that he faces a damaging rift with senior civil servants after a minister accused top officials of blocking Government policies they disagree with.

Union leaders reacted furiously after the Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude branded the conduct of some permanent secretaries responsible for running Whitehall departments "unacceptable".

Mr Maude, who is responsible for Civil Service reform, promised new measures to hold the mandarins accountable for their actions.

But the FDA, which represents senior civil servants, hit back accusing ministers of trying to "scapegoat" officials for their own policy failures.

The bitter clash appears to reflect frustration within Government ranks that public borrowing is still stubbornly high while the economy remains mired in recession.

In a speech to the Institute for Government in London, Mr Maude said that there had to be a "change of culture" across Whitehall.

"At the moment our system works on the basis that ministers are accountable to Parliament, which is quite right. But what must flow from that is civil servants are directly accountable to ministers. It sounds obvious but all too often it doesn't happen," he said.

"Ministers from this Government, and in previous ones, have too often found that decisions they have made do not then get implemented.

"There are cases when permanent secretaries have blocked agreed Government policy from going ahead or advised other officials not to implement ministerial decisions - that is unacceptable. And such exceptional cases undermine the sterling work of the majority of civil servants.

"Ministers, as the Ministerial Code outlines, should listen to the advice of their officials. Indeed, a minister who neglected to consult his or her officials would be foolhardy.

"Yet once a minister has made up his or her mind and given a decision, the constitutional role of the Civil Service is explicitly clear: it is to implement that decision."

FDA general secretary Dave Penman said his comments risked creating "a severe loss of trust" between ministers and their most senior officials.

"If ministers have concerns about the actions of permanent secretaries, there are established ways of dealing with them. If civil servants have serious concerns about policy initiatives, they have a responsibility to raise those concerns with ministers - that is the role of an impartial civil service," he said.

"Too often ministers seek to scapegoat senior civil servants for the failure of policy. By publicly berating permanent secretaries in this way, the Government risks damaging the key relationships between ministers and their most senior officials.

"No chief executive of a major private company would publicly criticise his most senior managers in this way and not expect morale to plummet.

"Civil servants are working to implement the Government's reform agenda and deficit reduction programme, while maintaining the standard of our public services. This is no way to motivate the most senior leaders to deliver this challenging agenda."

In his speech, Mr Maude said that in future permanent secretaries which would be set objectives which would be published online so their performance could be judged against them.

At the same time, ministers would be given the opportunity to "feed into" the performance appraisals of individual officials.

He said they were also looking at the New Zealand model where there is a contractual relationship between ministers who set policy outcomes and the heads of departments who are responsible for delivering them.

It would be considered as part of a review being carried out by the Institute for Public Policy Research think tank looking at how other countries run their bureaucracies.

PA

Sport
Mourinho lost his temper as well as the match
sportLiverpool handed title boost as Sunderland smash manager’s 77-game home league run
Voices
Sweet tweet: Victoria Beckham’s selfie, taken on her 40th birthday on Thursday
voices... and her career-long attack on the absurd criteria by which we define our 'betters', by Ellen E Jones
Arts & Entertainment
Billie Jean King, who won the women’s Wimbledon title in 1967, when the first colour pictures were broadcast
tv
News
Snow has no plans to step back or reduce his workload
mediaIt's 25 years since Jon Snow first presented Channel 4 News, and his drive shows no sign of diminishing
VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Life & Style
food + drinkWhat’s not to like?
Voices
Clock off: France has had a 35‑hour working week since 1999
voicesThere's no truth to a law banning work emails after 6pm, but that didn’t stop media hysteria
Arts & Entertainment
Maisie Williams of Game of Thrones now
tvMajor roles that grow with their child actors are helping them to steal the show on TV
Life & Style
Lana Del Rey, Alexa Chung and Cara Delevingne each carry their signature bag
fashionMulberry's decision to go for the super-rich backfired dramatically
Arts & Entertainment
Kingdom Tower
architecture
Life & Style
Sampling wine in Turin
food + drink...and abstaining may be worse than drinking too much, says scientist
Arts & Entertainment
Game of Thrones writer George R.R. Martin has been working on the novels since the mid-Nineties
books
News
Easter a dangerous time for dogs
these are the new ones. Old ones are below them... news
News
Brand said he
people
Voices
Actor Zac Efron
voicesTopless men? It's as bad as Page 3, says Howard Jacobson
Sport
Roger Federer celebrates his victory over Novak Djokovic in the Monte Carlo Masters
sport
Arts & Entertainment
The monster rears its head as it roars into the sky
film
Voices
For the Love of God (2007) The diamond-encrusted skull that divided the art world failed to sell for
its $100m asking price. It was eventually bought by a consortium
which included the artist himself.
voicesYou can shove it, Mr Webb – I'll be having fun until the day I die, says Janet Street-Porter
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Apprentice IT Technician

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is a company that specializ...

1st Line Technical Service Desk Analyst IT Apprentice

£153.75 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is an innovative outsourcin...

1st Line Helpdesk Engineer Apprentice

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company has been providing on site ...

Sales Associate Apprentice

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: We've been supplying best of breed peopl...

Day In a Page

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe: Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe

Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC
Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'

British Muslims's Happy video attacked as 'sinful'

The four-minute clip by Honesty Policy has had more than 300,000 hits on YouTube
Church of England-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith

Michael Williams: Do as I do, not as I pray

Church of England-raised Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife
Comedian Jenny Collier: 'Sexism I experienced on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

Jenny Collier: 'Sexism on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

The comedian's appearance at a show on the eve of International Women's Day was cancelled because they had "too many women" on the bill
Cannes Film Festival: Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or

Cannes Film Festival

Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
The concept album makes surprise top ten return with neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson

The concept album makes surprise top ten return

Neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson is unexpected success
Lichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines

Lichen is surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus

Emily Jupp discovers how it can give a unique, smoky flavour to our cooking
10 best baking books

10 best baking books

Planning a spot of baking this bank holiday weekend? From old favourites to new releases, here’s ten cookbooks for you
Jury still out on Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini

Jury still out on Pellegrini

Draw with Sunderland raises questions over Manchester City manager's ability to motivate and unify his players
Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

The all-rounder has been hailed as future star after Ashes debut but incident in Caribbean added to doubts about discipline. Jon Culley meets a man looking to control his emotions
Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

The most prize money ever at an All-Weather race day is up for grabs at Lingfield on Friday, and the record-breaking trainer tells Jon Freeman how times have changed
Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

Mad Men returns for a final fling

The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit