Press release

Sir Robert Devereux plans to retire as DWP Permanent Secretary in January

Robert Devereux plans to retire from the Department for Work and Pensions on his 61st birthday in January 2018, after 10 years as a Permanent Secretary.


Robert joined the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) as Permanent Secretary in January 2011 having been Permanent Secretary at the Department of Transport from May 2007.

At DWP he has led the organisation as it introduced the biggest reforms to welfare and pensions for a generation, including:

  • Universal Credit
  • the new State Pension
  • automatic enrolment into a workplace pension
  • the new Child Maintenance Service
  • the Personal Independence Payment

Together with the day to day operation of a system supporting 20 million customers, these reforms coincide with:

  • a record employment rate of 75.3%, and a record 32.14 million people in work
  • unemployment at its lowest rate since 1975
  • a record low number of workless households
  • 608,000 fewer children living in workless households since 2010
  • a rise in the proportion of people saving for retirement

The department’s headcount has reduced by some 50,000 since the 2010 to 2011 financial year, and operating costs are now £2.9 billion a year lower than 2010 to 2011.

Underpinning all of this, employee engagement has increased by 17 percentage points.

Robert Devereux
Robert Devereux

Permanent Secretary, Robert Devereux, said:

I am very proud of all that my 84,000 colleagues in DWP have achieved. I am privileged to have had the opportunity to lead them. While reforming nearly every part of the welfare state, they have radically improved our customer service and worked relentlessly to improve the lives of the millions of people we serve.

Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, David Gauke, said:

On behalf of all the Secretaries of State for Work and Pensions whom he has served as Permanent Secretary, I want to thank Robert for his leadership of and commitment to the department over the last 7 years.

He has been instrumental in steering DWP through a period of great change – including the roll-out and expansion of Universal Credit throughout the country – and he leaves the department in good shape for the future.

Cabinet Secretary and Head of the Civil Service, Sir Jeremy Heywood, said:

Robert has led DWP through some of the biggest reforms in recent years and can be truly proud of what he and the department have achieved.

Thanks to his hard work and dedication, DWP has become significantly more effective over the last 7 years.

I am grateful to Robert for the role he has played across government and I have valued his wise counsel and support over the years. I wish him the very best for his retirement.

The Cabinet Office will announce arrangements for a successor in due course. Robert Devereux will be retiring from the Civil Service on his 61st birthday on 15 January 2018.

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Published 11 October 2017