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Our Purpose and Vision

Through the Reshaping GCS programme, we will help to deliver the Prime Minister’s agenda as a stronger and more unified organisation – using our world-class communication to improve the lives of citizens in all four corners of the UK, as well as internationally, and build back better than ever before.

Collage of black and white photos of GCS staff

Introduction from HMG Directors of Communication

We are extremely proud of the work that government communicators have carried out over the past year during an unprecedented time of national crisis.

Screenshot of Directors of Communication from across government on a video call with Alex Aiken

Our efforts to communicate clearly and effectively have been fundamental to the country’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, helping to save both lives and livelihoods. Thank you to colleagues across the Government Communication Service who have contributed to this collective effort and who continue to do so.

As we look ahead to the next year, it is vital that we do not overlook the many lessons we can learn from the pandemic and its profound impact on our profession, our practices and our audiences. The next year brings with it the opportunity for us as communicators to focus on the skills and ways of working which we developed at pace over the course of the pandemic.

We will harness these skills to support the Prime Minister’s plan to build back better – using communication to relay life-saving public health messaging, back businesses to recover, maximise the new horizons that our successful EU deal has unlocked, and to build a greener, cleaner world for future generations.

This plan sets out these new priorities and the world-class communication and campaigns that will support them.

In 2021, we will also continue to drive forward progress with our Reshaping GCS programme, playing our part in the modernisation of the Civil Service. We will work together to further unify our profession and our communication across government, to improve our impact across all communication disciplines, and to deliver fewer, bigger, better campaigns.

To our fellow communicators, thank you once again for your hard work and dedication through one of the most difficult periods in our country’s recent history.

Alex Aiken, Executive Director, Government Communication and HMG Directors of Communication: Andy Pike, Anna Macmillan, Conrad Bird, Craig Woodhouse, Dafydd Jones, Dan Ramsay, David Holdstock, Emily Tofield, Gerald Mullally, Helen Bower-Easton, James Cox, Jen Wood, José Riera, Olaf Henricson-Bell, Poli Stuart-Lacey, Sharon Sawers, Shiona Adamson, Simon Baugh, Simon Wren, Suzanne Edmond, Toby Nation, Wendy Fielder

About the Government Communication Service (GCS)

Who we are

The Government Communication Service (GCS) is the professional body for public service communicators working in government departments, agencies and arm’s length bodies.

Led by Executive Director of Government Communication Alex Aiken, we are a community of communication professionals, serving the public across the United Kingdom and around the world.

From Whitehall to Whitehaven, Inverness to Cardiff and Belfast – we work across all four corners of the United Kingdom to make it a better place for all who live here.

Alex Aiken
Alex Aiken
Executive Director, Government Communication

What we do

We deliver world-class public service communication that supports ministers’ priorities, enables the efficient and effective operation of public services, and improves people’s lives. Our audiences are local, national and international and we work with them to ensure our communication is relevant and meaningful – whether in our media work or internal and stakeholder communications. We also work with the best industry talent from professional bodies, public sector organisations and external communication agencies who help us to deliver effective and impactful campaigns.

How we work

GCS is one of 14 functions that operate across the Civil Service. GCS is governed through departmental Directors of Communication and the GCS Board, which is chaired by Minister Lopez. The board makes recommendations on the direction, operation and development of the profession and holds us to account for the implementation of our major campaigns.

Where are we going next?

In July 2020, GCS announced ‘Reshaping’ plans to form a more united, modern profession running fewer, bigger and better campaigns. In 2021/22, GCS will build on the impactful communication and many lessons of the pandemic – with leaner, more effective campaigns that will improve people’s lives.

Our culture

GCS is proudly committed to attracting, supporting and developing a diverse workforce, and fostering a culture of inclusion. In October 2020, we launched an updated Diversity and Inclusion in Practice Action Plan. This action plan supports teams in continuing to build an inclusive environment and ensures that everyone in the GCS has the tools they need to deliver diversity in practice.

Did you know?

At the end of 2020, GCS collaborated with industry bodies and experts to develop a report on the impact of COVID -19 on the work of professional communications. Read the full report on the GCS website.

Our Future: Reshaping GCS

Reshaping GCS is a modernisation programme that will enable us to build the best profession possible. The programme forms part of the wider Civil Service reform and will modify, unify and simplify our approach, enabling us to speak to the public with one voice.

Gem Walsh
Gem Walsh
Transformation Director, Reshaping GCS

The programme will improve the experience of everyone in GCS. By adopting this unified approach, we will break down departmental silos and harness our shared expertise. As with all areas of the public sector, we must be as efficient as possible with our resources. It is right we consider the size of our communication functions, looking at ways to be more effective and making the best use of the taxpayers’ money.

Ultimately, Reshaping GCS will provide a host of benefits to all communicators – from an improved training offer to better career opportunities. It will enable us to deliver fewer, bigger and better campaigns that improve the lives of citizens across all four corners of the United Kingdom.

The programme comprises eight themes, which you can read more about below.

We will:

  1. Raise our standards, developing excellence in communication across all disciplines.
  2. Revolutionise our campaigns, running fewer, that are bigger, better and driven by data.
  3. Create enhanced career opportunities with a clear pathway of progression, as part of a single GCS profession.
  4. Weave diversity and inclusion into the design and implementation of the programme at every stage.
  5. Reach our audiences more directly with our digital capability and rapid response teams.
  6. Deliver a new central leadership team and structure.
  7. Drive efficiency through our campaign single budget, ensuring the best possible value for money.
  8. Optimise our employment approach, while continuing to recruit the brightest and best and better develop our people.

How can I stay up to date?

This year, we will focus on confirming future plans for the broad structure, teams and roles. You can read all the latest updates on Reshaping GCS at

Last updated 31 March 2021