With the end of 2017 fast approaching, we asked the UK's top civil servants to look back at the year, outline their goals for 2018 – and tell us what they cannot do Christmas without
What are you most proud of achieving in 2017?
This has been an important year for us at DWP, with the benefits of years of hard work coming to fruition.
Since 2010, we have reduced our annual operating costs by £2.5bn; we have 50,000 fewer people as we become more efficient; and had 50 million fewer phone calls as we have become more digital.
And we have just been finalists – with Shell – in the Association for Project Management’s Project Company of the Year Award, reflecting our record of delivery on welfare reform.
All of this great work has led to higher levels of customer service and fewer complaints over the service we provide day in, day out to 18 million customers.
The most important factor in the success of the department is the motivation and hard work of all our colleagues. Everything we’ve achieved is underpinned by that, and my colleagues’ People Survey engagement index score is up 16 percentage points over the last six years, by far the largest increase among the major government departments, as we grow great leaders at every level.
What was your most difficult decision in 2017?
After more than a decade as a permanent secretary, and seven privileged years leading DWP, I’ve decided to retire on my 61st birthday in January. It’s hard to leave a job you love.
DWP is a remarkable department to lead. The people who work in DWP are committed public servants.
Their pride in what they do, and in the positive difference they make to people’s lives, ultimately lies behind everything we have achieved, and will continue to achieve long after I have retired.
What are your department’s top priorities in the year ahead?
The continuing rollout of Universal Credit remains our top priority. This crucial labour market reform is demonstrably helping more people into work than the complex regime it replaces. We continue to deploy new features, reflecting feedback from our customers and our agents, and we will complete the rollout to new claims during 2018.
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