Sue Owen

Former Permanent Secretary at Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS)

Former Permanent Secretary, Department for Culture, Media and Sport
Policy Leaders Fellow Alum, Centre for Science and Policy

Sue Owen was Permanent Secretary of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, responsible for the overall management of the department, and retired in April 2018. Prior to taking up this post in October 2013 Sue was Director General for Strategy in the Department for Work and Pensions. She joined DWP in April 2009 as Director General of Welfare and Wellbeing, moving to the newly formed Strategy Group in October 2011. She was previously Director General for Corporate Performance at the Department for International Development. Sue has also served in the Number 10 Policy Unit, advising on family policy, and at the Treasury where she was Director in charge of EMU policy and national debt.

As DG of the Strategy Group, Sue was responsible for identifying where the Government’s welfare and pension reforms and social justice agenda should take the Department, looking beyond the individual reforms already underway. This meant ensuring coherence across policies and business strategy, to give Ministers a joined up view of their portfolios covering: benefit strategy and performance; pensions; disability rights; the labour market; social justice and international issues.

Sue has a longstanding interest in gender equality issues; her academic research was on the lifetime costs of motherhood through lower earnings and pensions. She worked on family policy at No 10 and on women-owned small firms while in the British Embassy Washington. She currently leads a cross-Whitehall group looking at the progression of women in the civil service. In 2015 she succeeded Simon Fraser as the civil service's diversity champion.