Press release

Transparency agenda reaches heart of government

The Cabinet Office has published new details about special advisers and civil servants working at the centre of government.

The Cabinet Office has published new details about special advisers and civil servants working at the centre of government.

The publication is part of the coalition’s ongoing drive to open up government to greater scrutiny. Some of the details have never been in the public domain before.

The information includes a detailed list of all special advisers and, for the first time, the exact salaries of those earning above £58,200. The Code of Conduct for Special Advisers has also been tightened.

Structure charts for the Cabinet Office and Number 10 have also been put on the Cabinet Office website for everyone to see. This is the first time that full details about who works in the Prime Minister’s Office have been published in this way.

Today’s publications show that the government has honoured its commitment to have fewer special advisers. The total number has gone down from 78 at the end of March this year to 68 - so the estimated annual pay bill could be as much as £2 million less than last year’s.

Key changes in the revised Code of Conduct and Model Contract for special advisers mean that:

  • for two years after leaving the civil service, all special advisers, whatever their seniority, will have their applications for employment referred to the independent Advisory Committee on Business Appointments
  • for the first time details of gifts and hospitality received will be published every quarter
  • special advisers, who leave to stand as prospective parliamentary candidates will no longer get severance pay;

Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude, who is also the Chair of the new Public Sector Transparency Board, said today’s announcements show the Government is ready for unprecedented levels of transparency:

We have pledged that a new era of transparency in government has begun and today’s publications show that nobody, no matter where they work, or who they are, is exempt from this agenda.

Much of what we have done today is completely new. For the first time anyone can see a whole range of information that has been held by governments before, but never put in the public domain. Special advisers have an important role in public life and it’s right that they should be open to the fullest scrutiny.

But this is about much more than names and charts. We are drawing back the curtains to let light into the innermost corridors of power.

CAB 083-10

Notes to editors

  1. Special advisers are employed to help ministers on matters where the work of government and the work of the political party in power overlap, and where it would be inappropriate for permanent civil servants to become involved.
  2. Download the list of special advisers, and the new code of conduct and model contract for special advisers, as well as the Cabinet Office and Number 10 structure charts.
  3. In 2009/2010, the pay bill for special advisers was £6.8m. It is estimated the pay bill for the new advisers in 2010/11 will be around £4.9m.
  4. List of Senior Civil Servants earning £150,000
  5. Other members of the Public Sector Transparency Board will include Sir Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web, Professor Nigel Shadbolt from Southampton University and Tom Steinberg, founder of mySociety.
  6. The Public Sector Transparency Board will be responsible for advising the Minister for the Cabinet Office in setting open data standards across the public sector and developing the legal ‘right to data’. It will support and challenge public sector bodies in the implementation of transparency and open data - and it will listen to the public and drive through the opening up of the most wanted data sets. It will consist of a mix of external experts and data users, and public sector data specialists.
  7. Data will also be released through www.data.gov.uk [external website].
  8. Contact the relevant departmental press office with any questions about individual special advisors.
  9. For Cabinet Office press office contact details, visit the press office page.

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