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Publication of Michael Gove letter on Covid-19 planning and co-ordination

24 May 2020

The Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee publishes correspondence from Minister for the Cabinet Office Michael Gove. The letter provides further background to elements of the Government's Covid-19 response, including its legislative strategy and contingency planning.

Chair of the Committee, William Wragg MP, had written to the Minister for the Cabinet Office for clarification on a number of points relating to the central co-ordination of the Government's response to Covid-19. A copy of that correspondence is available here.

In the letter, Mr Gove describes the Cabinet Office's role in checking departmental contingency plans:

"Departments are responsible for overseeing the management of the portfolio of risks of which they have ownership. The Cabinet Office's role is to coordinate the regular assessment of the UK's overall risk landscape for both internal and public purposes, to run the Resilience Capabilities Programme, and to manage central government response. This includes convening COBR, providing crisis management training through the Emergency Planning College, and working with Departments to test emergency response plans."

Chair's comments

Publishing Mr Gove's response, William Wragg commented:

"The letter from Michael Gove raises real questions about the role of the Cabinet Office in contingency planning. If they are only there to coordinate others' work, then who exactly is responsible for driving forward a co-ordinated response to serious crises. Who is there making sure that individual plans work in harmony with each other and that nothing is missed in the overall response.

We remain deeply concerned that a lack of Whitehall coordination and ill-defined departmental structures, hindered the nation's preparedness for major pandemic, as well as the ongoing co-ordination of the efforts to manage the health crisis. The Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee will continue to scrutinise both elements of the Covid-19 response in the coming weeks."

Further information

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