Follow us
Publications Commentary Research People Events News Resources and Videos About IFS
Home Tools and resources Fiscal Facts Public spending homepage Definition of functions and government departments

Definition of functions and government departments

Last updated:

UK government departments and their functions  

Department of Health

The Department of Health administers health and social care services. The vast majority of its budget consists of the NHS England budget; as health is devolved, health spending in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland is covered by the respective devolved administrations.

Department for Education 

The Department for Education is responsible for education and children’s services in England. As with health, the devolved administrations fund their own education spending from their separate budgets. 

Ministry of Defence

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) protects the security, independence and interests of the country at home and abroad, aiming to ensure that the armed forces have the training, equipment and support necessary for their work, and keeping within budget.

Cabinet Office

The 'corporate headquarters for government'. This department supports the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister and aims to ensure the effective running of government.

Department for Communities and Local Government

The budget for the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) includes funding for grants to local government (though not all local government funding), which covers spending on grants to local fire services and police services. DCLG also administers the government's housing policies, as well as the government's 'regional growth funds'.

Department for Work & Pensions

The Department for Work & Pensions (DWP) is responsible for most social security spending, including disability benefits and state pensions. 

Department for Transport

The Department for Transport is responsible for the UK's transport infrastructure, including roads maintenance and rail projects such as Crossrail. 

Department for International Development

The Department for International Development (DfID) is the UK's aid agency and administers most of the aid targeted in the UK government's commitment to spend at least 0.7% of gross national income on official development assistance. 

HM Treasury

HM Treasury is the government's economic and finance ministry.