Five months ago, on the steps of Downing Street, new Prime Minister Rishi Sunak promised to lead a government with “integrity, professionalism and accountability at every level.” That pledge represented a tacit acceptance that standards in public life had fallen below reasonable expectations and that a different style of governing was in order.
However, a key test of whether that pledge has real substance is the extent to which Sunak’s government is prepared to implement recommendations made by independent experts on how integrity in public office should be regulated.
Two major independent expert reports, published in 2021, recommended sweeping reform to the regulation of ethical standards in public life. In August 2021, Sir Nigel Boardman made 17 recommendations and 8 suggestions for improving standards following an inquiry commissioned by the government in light of the Greensill scandal.1 In November 2021, the Committee on Standards in Public Life (CSPL) made 34 recommendations in its Standards Matter 2 report.
Our audit reveals that nearly eighteen months after they were made just 7% (or 4 out of 57) of those recommendations have so far been implemented. 40 of these recommendations have seen no action at all, 12 only partial implementation and 1 is unknown. Progress that has been made is primarily based on the updating of guidance and publishing of policy papers, and entire agendas – from departmental codes of conduct, lobbying transparency to the revolving door between government and business – have so far been left almost completely untouched.
Click below to read the full report