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Kerslake appointed head of the civil service

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Bob Kerslake, permanent secretary at the Department for Communities & Local Government, has been named as the new head of the civil service

The Cabinet Office has confirmed that Kerslake, the former head of the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) and an ex-chief executive of Sheffield City Council, will add his new responsibilities to his current role.

The position will be created following the retirement of current Cabinet Secretary Gus O’Donnell at the end of the year. His role will be split into three with Jeremy Heywood taking over as Cabinet Secretary and Ian Watmore as permanent secretary of the Cabinet Office.

Rumours about Kerslake’s candidacy had been circulating in the sector after he pulled out of a meeting with council chief executives at short notice two weeks ago.

Labour MP Clive Betts, chair of the communities and local government select committee, said that although Kerslake has not been in Whitehall for long, this should not count against him. ‘I’m surprised the Whitehall machine is flexible enough [to consider someone new], but I’m not at all surprised given Kerslake’s capabilities,’ he said.

Kerslake said: ‘I am delighted and honoured to be given this leadership role at such an important time for the civil service. We have immense strengths in the service that we should be justly proud of, but we must also embrace change. I want to engage all parts of the civil service in the reform process.’

Meanwhile, O’Donnell said: ‘Kerslake has been an extremely impressive permanent secretary and has excellent wider experience of public service delivery. This stands him in great stead to be an outstanding Head of the Civil Service, and I wish him all the very best in his new role.’

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