Heseltine says civil servants in Whitehall hold back growth

FORMER Deputy Prime Minister Lord Heseltine yesterday said many civil servants are “amateur” and suggested Whitehall’s structure is restraining economic growth.

“The official world is largely a generalist civil service without expertise and without experience outside their own activities,” he said. “There is a great need for much more professional expertise in the civil service. No one knows what is going on in Whitehall. There’s no way to find out.”

Heseltine was appearing in front of the business, innovation and skills select committee following the publication of his government-commissioned report into economic growth.

He said too much emphasis is placed on the performance of individual Whitehall departments rather than considering the overall effect of government policy on local economies.

“The essence of my report is we need to stimulate economic activity wherever we can,” he added. “The more you can enthuse those who have a local knowledge in order to contribute to that process, the more you get a relevance to local economic circumstances.”