Coalition government paints an interesting and complex political landscape across the UK, requiring significant changes in the role of civil servants.
Scotland has been governed in recent years by both coalition and minority governments and this provides useful lessons for civil servants in other parts of the UK.
The new UK coalition has the potential to slow down the policy lifecycle unless the two parties operate true 'partnership politics'. Those supporting government at national and local level need to learn quickly how to thrive in this new environment to avoid political standstill.
The fundamental changes will be behavioural rather than structural (which is the traditional result of many previous ‘reorganisations’). In particular, the new focus of the senior civil service should be on helping to:
concentrate on outcomes rather than inputs. In some key policy areas, the outcomes each party seeks do not differ greatly – just how they want to achieve them. Civil servants need to step outside departmental structures which support ‘doing things right’ and focus more on working with stakeholders and across departments to ‘do the right things’
provide an inclusive, evidence-based approach to government. Civil servants will need to understand, manage and articulate views from a wide range of interests to manage choice, change and coalition proactively
play an facilitative role to hasten the journey from policy debate to policy delivery. Ministers from the respective parties will have a grasp of what they are trying to achieve but they will need help in the search for compromise required in the new environment.
To speak to a government expert about how to make a smooth transition to the new government, please contact us now.