Sue Gray’s Downing Street party report reveals ‘serious failure to maintain high standards’ at No 10 – Live | Politics

Use of the garden at 10 Downing Street is expected to be restricted primarily to the Prime Minister and private residents of 10 and 11 Downing Street. During the pandemic, it has often been used as an extension of the workplace as a safer way to hold group meetings in a ventilated space. It was a sensible move that staff appreciated, but the garden was also used for gatherings without clear permission or oversight. It was not appropriate. All official access to the space, including for meetings, should be by invitation only and in a controlled environment.

Some staff members wanted to raise concerns about behaviors they had witnessed at work, but sometimes felt unable to do so. No staff member should feel unable to report or challenge misconduct when witnessing it. There should be easier ways for staff to raise these concerns informally, outside of the reporting chain.

The number of staff working at 10 Downing Street has steadily increased in recent years. In terms of size, scale and scope of responsibilities, it is now more like a small government department than just a prime minister’s office. The structures that support the smooth running of Downing Street, however, have not evolved sufficiently to meet the demands of this expansion. Management structures are fragmented and complicated, which has sometimes led to blurred lines of responsibility. Too many responsibilities and expectations are placed on the senior civil servant whose main function is the direct support of the Prime Minister. This should be given priority.

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