Cross-government working is fundamental to the successful delivery of many government policies and programmes. There are a range of different models for how government departments work together, ranging from two departments working jointly on a specific policy, such as adult social care, to government priorities delivered by multiple departments, such as net zero. We have recently reported on another example, where the Joint Combatting Drugs Unit brings together several departments to try and tackle the complex problems caused by illegal drugs in a joined-up, holistic way.
We regularly see important programmes being hindered because of the difficulties such as data sharing and lack of cross-departmental buy-in. While departments take the lead in delivering their policies and programmes, both HM Treasury and the Cabinet Office have a role in supporting cross-government priorities, and they need a firm grip on facilitating and improving cross-government working so that it is not considered a ‘nice to have’ but instead becomes an integral part of how government works. HM Treasury and the Cabinet Office have worked to identify the barriers that prevent good working across government. They now need to learn from these so they can advise departments on the most effective approach, support this with appropriate funding arrangements, and do more to ensure that government consistently reports on its cross-cutting outcomes.