Cabinet Office hunts PR head after Austin exits

The Cabinet Office is on the hunt for a director of communications following the departure of Leonie Austin, who starts at the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) next week as director of public affairs.

The post oversees a 45-strong communications department, which includes a press office, an internal comms function and marketing, publishing and strategic planning units.

The Cabinet Office director of communications reports to managing director Colin Balmer.

Press office staff played down recently made claims that the replacement communications director would have to be someone with a good knowledge of the private sector.

A spokeswoman told PRWeek: ‘We are in the process of looking at the job description and how the job will be advertised.’

Austin’s newly created role at RICS comes as the organisation strengthens its lobbying function to boost its profile in Continental Europe and increase its membership.

She will report to executive director of brand membership Sean Tompkins and will have responsibility for the press office and the policy unit. Austin said: ‘Once I was a director, I felt I had covered all the job

possibilities [at the Cabinet Office].

‘I thought it would be a good idea to join an organisation which works in partnership with the Government on issues such as sustainability. RICS also has a public-interest role,’ she added.

Prior to her three-year spell at the Cabinet Office, Austin was head of press at the Food Standards Agency when it launched in 2000. When she leaves the Cabinet Office, she will have worked in the government comms arena for 16 years.

The Cabinet Office, based in Downing Street, is charged with delivering effective government, human resources and dealing with cross-departmental issues, such as regulation and strategy.

It also supports the Cabinet committee system and promotes standards of governance, including adherence to ministerial and civil service codes of conduct.

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