While the structures supporting the UK prime minister have changed dramatically over time, discussion about how to change or improve them rarely take international examples into account.

In Supporting Heads of Government we compare the support system for the UK prime minister with the heads of government in five countries:

  • Australia
  • Canada
  • Germany
  • Sweden
  • New Zealand.

Our report is based on interviews with officials and advisers across six countries. It collates the answers we received to the question: What does a head of government need from his or her support system?

We focus on three functions in which the UK was particularly different from other case study countries.

  • Direction setting - across the case studies there are relatively small numbers of staff providing support for a leader’s direction, despite the importance placed on this function by those we interviewed across all countries
  • Policy advice - the UK prime minister has far fewer policy advisers directly supporting him or her than leaders in Australia, Canada or Germany
  • Implementation - the implementation of policy priorities across government was monitored by the leader’s direct support system in four of the countries we studied. In Sweden this was primarily the role of other central agencies.