Rishi Sunak orders officials to hand more knighthoods to Northerners by ‘levelling up’ the honours system – with civil servants set to be recognised for saving taxpayers’ money rather than long service
- Cabinet Office admits ‘regional diversity’ challenges in the awarding of gongs
Rishi Sunak has tasked officials with ‘levelling up’ the honours system in a move that could see more gongs handed to those from the North.
The Prime Minister wants to ensure the ‘length and breadth’ of the UK are represented in the dishing out of MBEs, OBEs, CBEs and knighthoods, a new report has revealed.
He is also keen on rewarding civil servants who have saved taxpayers’ cash as a priority of the honours system, when traditionally Whitehall officials have been recognised for their length of service.
In a foreword to a Cabinet Office report on the operation of the honours system, Deputy PM Oliver Dowden revealed Mr Sunak’s plans for a shake-up.
The Prime Minister wants to ensure the ‘length and breadth’ of the UK are represented in the dishing out of MBEs, OBEs, CBEs and knighthoods, a new report has revealed
In this year’s New Year’s honours list, Londoners received one in five (21 per cent) of honours, such as OBEs, despite the capital making it up 13 per cent of the UK population.
The Angel of the North in the North East – a region that received only 2.8 per cent of honours in the New Year’s list despite having a 4 per cent population share
‘Looking ahead, the PM is determined to make sure our honours represent the length and breadth of the country,’ Mr Dowden, who is also the Cabinet Office minister, wrote.
‘He has tasked us with “levelling up” the system so that it captures every corner of the UK – particularly regions that have too often been underrepresented.
‘He has also set a key – and often overlooked – priority when rewarding public servants, to recognise those who have saved the taxpayer money.
‘The Government is here to serve the British people; it is our duty to make sure we are delivering value for money on their behalf wherever we can.’
Mr Sunak was also said by Mr Dowden to want future awards ‘to be targeted at those who are helping tackle today’s biggest challenges’.
‘He has asked the honours system to prioritise those who provide high-quality healthcare and education; who tackle crime; who support families to contribute to society and help children achieve their potential; and to recognise our most inspiring entrepreneurs, innovators and philanthropists,’ he added.
The Cabinet Office report acknowledged that ‘regional diversity remains challenging’ in the awarding of gongs, with some parts of the UK ‘consistently better represented in honours lists than others’.
Both London and Northern Ireland tended to have ‘greater number of recipients than would be expected from their share of the population’, while ‘the north east and north west of England, east of England and East Midlands are all less well represented relative to their population sizes’, it was found.
In this year’s New Year’s honours list, Londoners received one in five (21 per cent) of honours – despite the capital making it up 13 per cent of the UK population.
Northern Ireland got 6.5 per cent of honours with a 2.8 per cent population share.
By contrast, the East Midlands had 2.3 per cent of recipients despite having a 7.2 per cent population share.
The North East received 2.8 per cent of honours, with a 4 per cent population share; and the North West received 8.7 per cent of honours, with an 11 per cent population share.
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