Outgoing Home Office HR Chief: Attacks On Civil Servants Damage Recruitment

By on 13/08/2015 | Updated on 25/09/2020
Kevin White has warned that public attacks on civil servants are “profoundly unhelpful”

A retiring senior official in the UK has warned that public attacks on civil servants are “profoundly unhelpful” as a survey shows that almost two thirds of British civil servants believe that media and political criticism has damaged their reputation.

Kevin White, who retired from his post as HR director-general at the Home Office on 10 July, told Global Government Forum that creating and maintaining the civil service as a “positive brand” was important in order to attract “people of talent and aspiration.”

Continuously bashing civil servants in the media, he said, “is very demotivating for people who are all working hard to serve the public.”

White’s warning comes after an exclusive poll conducted by Global Government Forum found that 60% of British civil servants feel that “media and political criticism has significantly damaged or fundamentally undermined perceptions of the civil service.”

The online survey, which was carried out between 8 May and 30 July, also found that only 4% do not believe that media and political criticism has had any effect on people’s views of civil servants.

The poll was sent out to 220,000 senior government officials around the world and collected 1,890 responses from UK-based civil servants.

Speaking in an exclusive interview with Global Government Forum, White, who worked in the civil service for 39 years – 29 of them in senior ranks – said that those ministers and special advisers using the media to criticise officials “know it’s not helpful” and that he hoped the practice would stop.


See also: Our full interview with Kevin White

And news: Former UK HR Boss Calls For Civil Service To Recruit Non-graduates

About Winnie Agbonlahor

Winnie is news editor of Global Government Forum. She previously reported for Civil Service World - the trade magazine for senior UK government officials. Originally from Germany, Winnie first came to the UK in 2006 to study a BA in Journalism & Russian at the University of Sheffield. She is bilingual in English and German, and, after spending an academic year abroad in Russia and reporting for the Moscow Times, Winnie also speaks Russian fluently.

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