Sir Bob’s rise from town hall to the head of civil service

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SIR Bob Kerslake, the former council officer credited with helping to turn around the fortunes of Sheffield, has been appointed as the new head of the Government’s civil service.

He will combine the leading mandarin post with continuing to be permanent secretary in Eric Pickles’ Department of Communities and Local Government.

Prime Minister David Cameron announced the appointment this week, sealing the rise to the top of the man who made a significant mark on Sheffield over ten years up to 2008.

As chief executive of the council, he tightened up finances, changed work practices and improved the credentials of the town hall with the business community.

He departed as the authority maintained its maximum four-star rating after an independent assessment by the Audit Commission.

Sir Bob, who continues to live in Sheffield, despite working in London, also played a key role in transforming the city centre through the Heart of the City programme.

He was knighted in the 2006 New Year Honours.

Initially, he joined the civil service as chief executive of the Government’s Homes & Communities Agency. Now he is preparing to be head of the civil service after cabinet secretary Sir Gus O’Donnell retires at the end of the year at the age of 59.

It was announced last month that the roles of Sir Gus would be split on his departure, and Sir Bob will be working alongside Jeremy Heywood, who will take over as cabinet secretary. His salary will be £200,000.

Sir Bob, aged 56, said he was honoured to be appointed to the role at “such an important time for the civil service”.

“We have immense strengths in the service that we should be justly proud of, but we must also embrace change. I want to engage all parts of the civil service in the reform process,” he added.

Prime minister David Cameron said: “I am delighted to announce that Sir Bob Kerslake will become head of the civil service in January, working alongside Jeremy Heywood as cabinet secretary.

“Sir Bob brings with him a wealth of experience in both central and local government, gained from over 20 years of public service.”