The Strategy Unit, the prime minister’s long term think tank, is facing the chop.
Renaming or restructuring your strategy team is an important rite of passage for most prime ministers, so this should come as little surprise to Whitehall veterans.
But it does give an insight into some of the teething problems the policy wonks have faced in Downing Street, not least given the extra pressures of working in a coalition.
The plans are not quite finalised. But it looks like the Strategy Unit — which is staffed by a few dozen civil servants — will broadly be split in two.
Some staff will join Steve Hilton and Polly Mackenzie in the Policy Unit, which is mainly staffed by special advisers in Downing Street. The remainder will be joining Nick Clegg’s small but growing cadre of wonks. The Office of Civil Society, meanwhile, is to be beefed up to become The Big Office of Civil Society*. Gareth Davies, the current head of the strategy unit, will be its new director general.
Shifting policy specialists from a Strategy Unit to a Policy Unit will only set pulses racing of the most devoted Whitehall-ogist. But there is a genuine point to be made. These two teams were set up to do very different things.