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Has the Whitehall Model survived?

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The expression 'Whitehall Model' has a certain heuristic value for describing four key features of the British civil service, namely political neutrality, generalism, life-long career paths and a strong policy advisory role. This model has been challenged by politicization, changes in career management and recruitment as well as increasing competition from other sources of policy advice. The UK civil service's role in relation to ministers seems to have become increasingly defined in managerial terms and decreasingly as policy advisers, not least because a range of other individuals and bodies (advisers, consultants, think tanks, party research departments) now share this role. While it appears to be enjoying a diminishing policy role, the senior civil service has not, at least so far, managed to occupy the high ground in its managerial role. The biggest change in the model is a collapse of confidence in the civil service, not only among citizens, but also among politicians and civil servants themselves.

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