Government comms should be 'simple' and 'human', says ex-PR David Cameron

Prime Minister David Cameron has urged all civil servants and government departments to make all communication with the public "human, clear, simple, helpful and professional".

Comms is key: Cameron speaking in 2014 (Credit: Melissa Bunni Elian via
Comms is key: Cameron speaking in 2014 (Credit: Melissa Bunni Elian via

Writing on the Civil Service blog yesterday, Cameron thanked civil servants for their service under his leadership so far, and said: "Now we’re starting a new term of government, I want to say directly to every civil servant what ministers value about your work and what your priorities should be."

The three key things ministers want civil servants to have are honesty, integrity and humanity, according to Cameron, who spent seven years working for Carlton Communications before going into politics.

He went on to say: "Honesty, integrity and humanity need to be accompanied by effective communication. All our communications with the public should be human, clear, simple, helpful and professional. This means explaining complexity in everyday terms and translating jargon into simple English. If we can’t do that, we won’t communicate."

Cameron said ministers needed clarity, urging civil servants to "be brief and use straightforward language" when dealing with ministers, saying: "If there’s bad news, we need to hear it. If there’s a problem, tell us clearly. But please try also to find a way round the problem and tell us that clearly too."

He said strong communication was central to government delivering strong public services. "It will enable all of us across government to explain things clearly, to understand what’s needed, to do the right thing in the best way, and to concentrate on what really matters," he said, adding that he expected senior civil servants "to set a personal example of this".

Cameron also used the blog to announce a new award for clarity among the 15 categories in the annual Civil Service Awards.

In addition to Cameron's plea, civil servants publishing content on the government web portal already have to adhere to a style guide first created for the platform last year.

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