Home Office appoints Olly Robbins to new second perm sec role

Director general for civil service reform to take up post as Home Office’s second permanent secretary, with responsibility for immigration and free movement


By Sarah Aston

16 Sep 2015

Oliver Robbins has been appointed to the newly-created role of second permanent secretary for the Home Office.

Robbins, who has served as director general for civil service reform since January 2014, will be responsible for the department's immigration and free movement policy as well as oversight of the borders, immigration and citizenship system.

In March 2013, home secretary Theresa May abolished the UK Border Agency – which had been responsible for UK border controls since 2008 – following a number of rows over the management of UK borders. Splitting the agency’s remit, May announced the Home Office would take back responsibility for immigration and law enforcement services.


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Congratulating Robbins on his appointment, current permanent secretary Mark Sedwill said he was “pleased” the director general was joining the Home Office.

He said: “I’m looking forward to working with Olly as we deliver the department’s priorities to secure the UK border, control immigration and welcome the Syrian refugees we are resettling in the UK.”

After taking up the newly created role, Robbins will be one of three second permanent secretaries in Whitehall, joining Edward Troup in HMRC and John Kingman at the Treasury.

Commenting on his appointment, Robbins said: “I’m delighted to be joining the Home Office and to be working on some of the government’s top priorities.

"I look forward to joining the team driving the response to borders and immigration challenges within the Home Office and across government."

A Home Office spokesperson told CSW that Robbins would "spend this week meeting officials and being briefed on key issues in his portfolio", before taking up post on September 21.

The decision to create a specific remit for immigration has been welcomed by former chief inspector of immigration and borders John Vine, who, during his seven years in office, was sometimes highly critical of the management of borders and immigration.

Speaking to CSW, Vine he said he thought the move was a “good idea” which would "help ensure a coordinated approach across the immigration directorates, particularly at a time when the demand on immigration services is likely to increase".

Cabinet secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood also congratulated Robbins on his move, tweeting: “Congratulations to [Oliver Robbins] on his promotion and move to the Home Office. [He] has done a tremendous job helping to drive civil service transformation over the last 2 years.”

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