Cabinet Office
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Capabilities Plan for the Civil Service

The Cabinet Office has published its Capabilities Plan as part of Civil Service Reform.

The Cabinet Office has published its Capabilities Plan - a new strategy for improving skills and performance across the Civil Service. The plan is a key part of the government’s overall Reform Plan, which aims to transform the Civil Service into a high-skilled, high-performance organisation that’s less bureaucratic and more focused on delivering results.

Head of the Civil Service Sir Bob Kerslake said:

We have a wealth of talent in the Civil Service but we know that there are some areas, such as digital and commercial skills, where we must raise our game. We will provide the training opportunities and performance management to support civil servants to develop these skills and abilities.

All departments will be using the same set of standards to recruit and promote staff and for the first time in 20 years we will have a common approach to performance management. This will help ensure we can continue to deliver the best for Britain.

Priority areas

The plan, which mirrors similar initiatives undertaken by successful private companies, identified 4 priority areas:

  • leading and managing change
  • commercial skills and behaviours
  • programme and project management
  • digital skills

Building skills

The plan contains a strategy for building individuals’ skills and competencies and examines how the Civil Service can use structures and management processes to harness these skills. All civil servants will be entitled to 5 days of learning and development each year, targeted to help them perform better in their work.

There will also be a wide range of opportunities such as job shadowing and on-the-job learning, as well as formal training courses. The plan also encourages more secondments into and from the private and voluntary sectors.


Civil Service staff will need experience of open policy-making and of turning policy into action to progress in their careers.

Managers are also being given powers to tackle poor performance. Each civil servant will be given a performance rating at the end of the year. Those with top marks will be recognised and encouraged, while those with the lowest rating will be given help and expected to improve.

The plan will be centrally driven by the Head of the Civil Service. Permanent Secretaries themselves will have their performance measured on how well they increase the capability of their organisations.

Reviewing progress

The government will review progress on the implementation of the plan, including examining whether Civil Service capabilities have increased, by tracking data such as the results of the annual People Survey.

Further information

Read the plan in full here. If you’re a civil servant, find out more about what this means for you.

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