Working to make government more effective


The National Security Council: National security at the centre of government

This paper looks at the evolution of the National Security Council and how national security has been previously addressed by the centre.

The National Security Council (NSC) was one of the coalition government’s first creations in May 2010. In our report Centre Forward: Effective Support for the Prime Minister at the Centre of Government, we identified it as an example of how the prime minister can create additional capacity to take forward his priorities.

In this new report, The National Security Council: National Security at the Centre of Government, we look at how the NSC has evolved since 2010, and place it in historical context, tracing a century of developments in national security co-ordination. In particular, we explore how the NSC is different from the recent history of national security coordination at the centre.

This report forms part of the Contemporary History of Whitehall project, an Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC)-funded collaboration between the Policy Institute at King’s College London and the Institute for Government. It explores the ways in which Whitehall changed between 1979 and 2010, the size, shape and scope of government. The project seeks to make the history of Whitehall relevant to today’s policy makers. This first publication is a collaboration with the Institute for Government’s work on the role of the centre and the Contemporary History of Whitehall project.

Institute for Government

Related content

04 JUL 2014 Report

Centre Forward

This report looks at how successive prime ministers have all had to grapple with the central machine to get a system that works best for them.

14 OCT 2014 Report

The Special Ones

This report draws on the experiences of those who have worked in special units to distil seven pieces of advice on how to make a special unit work.

22 JAN 2024 Report

Whitehall Monitor 2024

Our annual, data-based assessment of the UK civil service, how it has changed and performed over the past year, and its priorities for the future.