Speaking on behalf of the group of senior permanent secretaries who make up the Civil Service Board, we are proud of what you do. Never more so than now, when the government’s priority of preparing for the UK’s exit from the EU presents an almost unprecedented set of challenges to civil servants. Challenges to which we see you rise every day.
It's important that we make this plain. You may be aware of anonymous voices in the media suggesting that the performance and attitude of civil servants are actually hindering those preparations. This is nonsense, and we cannot let it pass without comment.
The Civil Service, self-evidently, is here to serve. It isn’t – and shouldn’t be – above criticism. But the recent criticism has not been about how efficient or effective we are. Rather, it goes right to the heart of, and calls into question, the values and integrity of the UK Civil Service in supporting the governments of the day – the very qualities that make us practically unique. We want you to know that we reject this suggestion, categorically, and that you have our full support.
While we put on record our own appreciation for what you do, it’s worth mentioning that we are not alone. We have received messages of thanks and admiration from all sides of the EU Exit debate for the commitment and professionalism of civil servants.
The board is clear that in these most testing times for the public service, civil servants and colleagues in the wider public sector have worked with perseverance, dedication and skill to implement government policy. At no time have you fallen below the high standards that the public would expect, and that we expect of ourselves. This applies not only to those of you who are working directly on EU Exit, but to those – the great majority – who dedicate themselves, day in day out, in all the administrations of the United Kingdom, to maintaining the public services that our fellow citizens rely on.
This is outstanding work, worthy of a brilliant Civil Service. We are proud of it and of you, and confident that it will continue.
Mark Sedwill, Cabinet Secretary and Head of the Civil Service,
John Manzoni, Chief Executive of the Civil Service and Cabinet Office Permanent Secretary