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Can Starmer's five missions truly rebuild Britain?


Can Starmer’s five missions truly rebuild Britain?

Mission-led government: impacts on Public Sector – part 1: strategy activation


This article is part 1 of a three-part series on mission-led government and its impact on public sector organisations. It explores Labour’s five missions to rebuild Britain: economic growth, clean energy, safer streets, equal opportunities, and a future-ready NHS. Parts 2 and 3 can be found below:


Reading time: 4 minutes


If you’ve listened to Britain’s new Prime Minister, Sir Keir Starmer, speak at any point over the last year, then you’ll likely have heard him refer to Labour’s ‘five missions to rebuild Britain’[1].

These are:

  1. Kickstarting economic growth
  2. Making Britain a clean energy superpower
  3. Taking back our streets
  4. Breaking down barriers to opportunity
  5. Building an NHS fit for the future


[1] Labour Party Manifesto 2024, p11

Beyond short-termism

Labour in opposition presented these missions as strategic, long-term challenges that they would seek to address if elected to office. In looking at policy through a mission-driven lens, our new Government wants to shift the machinery of government away from the short-termism driven by the rhythm of annual funding settlements for departments, the pressures of the electoral cycle, and the disruption of unexpected events and crises.

The Labour Party’s position is that their missions for the new government are ‘ambitious, measurable, long-term objectives’ that provide a driving sense of purpose for the country[2]’. Achieving the five missions will need to involve a joined-up approach across HM Government, with the Cabinet Office identifying ‘mission sponsors’ and leaders in departments providing detailed policy and technical expertise. They will need to develop a high degree of coordination between them to identify, onboard, monitor and support initiatives in support of the missions, and proactively share lessons learned and best practice across traditional system boundaries.

However, experience tells us that it’s much easier for political parties and governments to talk about long-term ambitions and creating ‘joined-up government’ than it is to deliver. This is largely because the Civil Service isn’t set up to deliver in a cross-departmental, mission-based structure.


[2] Labour Party Manifesto 2024, p10

Delivering mission-led government

How should the Civil Service respond to the new government’s missions? How should it bring the missions to life for civil servants across Government, and ensure an effective balance of governance, cross-departmental accountability, and delivery?

There is broad agreement across the Civil Service that it needs to adapt its methodology and make more progress across critical areas of delivery, which can only be achieved through a concerted, cross-government approach, working in partnership with the best of the private and voluntary sectors and academia.

Our experience in working with governments across the world reinforces this perspective and leads us to conclude that the best way to achieve the successful delivery of cross-cutting missions and strategy is to bring together a new organisational capability to unite strategic insight and activate it.

Now we have a new government, one of the fundamental steps the Civil Service should take to ensure it can deliver on the five missions is to create a Strategy Management Office (SMO). The SMO should be a focused team that unites strategic insight and delivery rigour in the Cabinet Office, right at the centre of government, with a mandate for cross-governmental change.

Holding departments, people, and teams accountable against defined objectives set for the delivery of its missions, the SMO would ensure that the Cabinet Office, other departments, and arms’ length bodies aren’t distracted from strategic mission delivery by the business as usual of their organisations. In turn, it would be uniquely placed to support those departments by applying cross-cutting levers in a targeted way, resolving critical delivery blockers more effectively.

This approach could be further supported by establishing smaller SMOs within departments. These could interface directly with the centre to share lessons learned and best practice, helping their departments remain focused on mission delivery even, and especially, when facing conflicting demands on limited resources.

Ensuring successful mission delivery

An effective SMO for mission-led government would bring several key benefits that would support the effective delivery of an incoming government’s missions:

  • Central accountability: through a single accountable SMO that will oversee the execution of the missions, streamlining the authority matrix and enabling more agile decision-making.
  • A single source of truth on mission delivery: a well-coordinated delivery plan that aligns milestones and outcomes and can effectively identify and manage cross-mission dependencies.
  • A unified approach to communications and change: that brings civil servants from across the Civil Service together on the journey, ensuring that the cultural and ways of working changes stick.


There are several key factors that are essential in introducing an effective SMO for mission-led delivery. It would need:

  • A dedicated focus on missions: the SMO should have a clearly defined mandate, separate from business-as-usual activity, with a scope that creates a singular focus within the SMO on the achievement of the missions.
  • Clear and effective governance: agreed delegations of authority (including over budget and resource allocation), well-defined governance forums, and escalation routes that ensure decisions are prioritised effectively and risks and issues are identified and resolved quickly.
  • Well-defined processes, tools and ways of working: seamless processes that enable engagement across core enabling functions, programme tools, and a performance and action-oriented culture that seeks to proactively manage risks, unblock issues, and clearly manage dependencies. These will need to be adequately funded and resourced.


How Q5 could help

Standing up an SMO at pace isn’t easy. The change in government will lead to many competing demands on time, resource, and capabilities. At Q5, we offer a tailored approach to building and operating SMOs and transferring knowledge and capabilities into organisational teams. Our approach is built on our deep organisation design and development expertise and experience delivering SMOs across national health organisations and large multinational organisations.


If you are interested in learning more about how we could support, then please get in touch at

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