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Government Government

Celebrate public service

Last updated: 12:45pm 25 November 2019

Public service is a noble vocation, one which we will celebrate.

Conservative Party Manifesto 2017, p.43

Our verdict

The Institute for Government offers this definition of public services:

“Public services are those – such as health and education – considered so essential they are made available to all citizens, regardless of income.”

Public servants are distinct from civil servants, who work for government departments which report to ministers. The main bodies employing public servants are:

  • Non-Departmental Public Bodies (often called quangos)
  • The National Health Service
  • The Armed Forces
  • Public Corporations
  • Local Authorities

This policy is a pledge to “celebrate” people working in these sectors and acknowledge the “noble vocation” of public service.

Anyone can be nominated for an honour or award for exceptional achievement or service under the honours system overseen by the Cabinet Office. In 2018, a total of 1,057 people were recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list, many for public service work.

The government sponsors an annual Clinical Excellence Award scheme for NHS consultants.

There are various medals awarded to serving and former members of the armed forces.

The UK Parliament Awards were launched in 2018 to “celebrate the work of people all over the UK who make a difference in their communities and beyond”. They include an award for Teacher of the Year.

We’ve looked separately at the government’s promise to “review the honours system” and concluded that it is ‘not started’. This pledge, however, is easier to fulfil. We have found evidence of public service continuing to be celebrated in various ways under this government, so this policy is ‘done’.

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There's always room for debate

We’re serious about providing clear, up-to-date, non-partisan information. We focus on being consistent and fair in how we reach our verdicts, and always explain our reasoning. But there is always room for debate. So if you see it differently, we’d love you to tell us why. Or even better, submit an edit.