The prime minister’s top special adviser, Dominic Cummings, is to move into the Cabinet Office headquarters next month as part of a rearrangement of government offices that will also see other key Downing Street staff including the No.10 policy unit move buildings.
Downing Street confirmed last night that Boris Johnson’s private office and political aides will take up residence at 70 Whitehall in September in moves that come as the Cabinet Office perm sec Alex Chisholm works on the government’s long-anticipated plan for civil service reform.
Munira Mirza, director of the No.10 policy unit, will be among the other high-ranking staff to make the move.
Cabinet Office officials have been told the move – part of reforms driven by Cummings – is intended to “drive culture change” in the civil service. It comes after Chisholm invited officials to set out their ideas about how to improve the civil service in the first steps of what he called a movement for reform.
The moves may essentially create a de facto “Department for the Prime Minister” in the Cabinet Office, as the No.10 staffers will move into offices that currently house the Cabinet Office economic and domestic affairs secretariat, or EDS, which coordinates cross-Whitehall working on the government’s domestic policy agenda.
The overhauled “collaboration hub” will be equipped with co-working desks and television screens displaying “real-time performance data”, The Times reported. And the adjoining door between 70 Whitehall to 10 Downing Street will be removed to symbolically link up the two buildings.
In an email to Cabinet Office staff yesterday, seen by The Times, EDS director general Mark Sweeney said the move would ensure civil servants were as “efficient as possible in delivering the government’s agenda”.
“We want to make the join from policy idea through to making a difference on the ground as seamless, and as swift, as possible,” he said.