Cabinet: What is it and what does it do?


There is a lot of talk about the cabinet – that there is a lot of drama or “revisions” in the weekly meetings. Here’s a very quick guide to what the policy is if you don’t follow it.

It is the Prime Minister’s main team

The cabinet consists of about 20 people, usually members of parliament but sometimes members of the House of Lords. They are known as ministers, or in some cases, secretaries of state, depending on the position.

Each minister looks after specific things

For example, the Chancellor of the Exchequer – whose title is the Chancellor of the Exchequer – decides how much money you will be paid and where it will be spent, while the Home Secretary looks after the UK’s borders and police.

Prime Ministers are chosen and “changed again”.

Top jobs are given to friends and supporters of the prime minister. When many ministers are moved, promoted or fired it is called “reshuffling”. Ministers can move between very different departments, so for example they can move from transport to culture.

They don’t have to be experts

Therefore, the health secretary does not have to have worked as a doctor or nurse, for example. They take advice and decide what the department does. They consider how much money should be spent, whether it is what the government has promised and how it affects voters.

Then it’s up to other people to do that

Each department works with civil servants, elected politicians or people who are not loyal to a political party. They work to implement the government’s plans.

There is a special meeting room and desk at 10 Downing Street

The cabinet meets every week around a long table covered with deep green felt and there is a carved chair for each minister. The PM sits in the middle and seems to indicate how important they are to where everyone else is sitting.

Cabinet ministers receive an extra £70,000 on top of their MP salary

But it can be a great political risk. If things go wrong in their department, ministers are usually expected to take the fall and step down.