Like all civil servants, government communicators must carry out their work objectively and without political bias, in accordance with the standards of behaviour set out in the Civil Service Code.

What do we mean by propriety in government communications?

In the specific context of government communications, propriety means presenting the policies and programmes of the government of the day properly and effectively. To achieve this, government communications:

  • Should be relevant to government responsibilities;
  • Should be objective and explanatory, not biased or polemical;
  • Should not be – and not liable to being misrepresented as – party political;
  • Should be conducted in an economic and appropriate way, and should be able to justify the costs as expenditure of public funds.

General guidance

The Civil Service Code sets out the standards of behaviour expected of all civil servants. Meanwhile, Government Communication Propriety Guidance gives more detailed information on how to observe propriety within government communications.

A propriety FAQ and guidance on propriety in digital and social media can be found on the left-hand side of this page.

Latest Guidance

Cabinet Office has published the general principles for civil servants, including special advisers, which apply to annual Party conferences 2018.

The guidance also applies to those on secondment or loan to departments from external organisations, and to those working in non-departmental public bodies (NDPBs), and other arm’s length bodies (ALBs).

Please ensure that this guidance is drawn to the attention of staff within your department, including special advisers, and is also circulated to the NDPBs and other ALBs sponsored by your department.

Contact us

If you have any questions about propriety, it is always best to contact your line manager or Director of Communications in the first instance. If you require further clarification or advice, please contact the GCS Propriety Team at

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