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UK Politics

Job of top Civil Service official to be split three ways


The role of head of the Civil Service is to be split into three parts, it was announced yesterday, after the Cabinet Secretary, Sir Gus O'Donnell, confirmed he would retire at the end of the year.

His job will be divided between his replacement as Cabinet Secretary, Jeremy Heywood, and two new jobs as head of the Home Civil Service and Permanent Secretary, Cabinet Office. Downing Street said the splitting of Sir Gus's role was an acknowledgement of how much it had grown in recent years and also as a result of the new Coalition Government.

Front runners for that job will include Dame Helen Ghosh, Permanent Secretary at the Home Office. She is regarded as a highly competent leader of one of the most notoriously "difficult" departments in Whitehall. Also in the frame will be Sir Suma Chakrabarti at the Justice Department and Sir Nicholas Macpherson at the Treasury.

Mr Heywood will be responsible for advising both David Cameron and Nick Clegg.

Mr Heywood, a previous permanent secretary at No 10, has long been the front runner for Sir Gus's job. He was lured back to government from the private sector to take up the role and is highly regarded by Mr Cameron and Mr Clegg.

Mr Cameron paid tribute to Sir Gus as "the outstanding civil servant of his generation". "His support during the formation of the Coalition Government, and in ensuring the smooth and effective running of Cabinet government since I took office, has been invaluable," he said.

Sir Gus, 58, stands down after 32 years as a civil servant and will become a life peer.