Skip to main content

Featuring on topics: what publishers need to know

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Working with us

The information in this blogpost may now be out of date. See the current GOV.UK content and publishing guidance.

From early next week, it will be possible to feature important content on topic pages in the departments and policy section of GOV.UK. This post explains how it will work and which department should lead the curation for each topic.

How it works

When we've deployed the update (likely to be on Monday), publishers will be able to feature documents on topics by going to "More > Topics > [Topic X] > Featured documents". The interface will be familiar to you - it's based on the existing interface for featuring on organisations.

You can feature between 0 and 5 items on any of the topics. The template will adapt accordingly.

(You can expect improvements to how you feature things in future - this is the minimal viable version of this feature right now).

What to feature

As with featuring documents on organisations, you should carefully choose items which are likely to be of most interest to users, basing this on  analytics not only promoting the latest stuff. Usually users are looking for the currently most significant policies, publications, consultations or statistical releases - not just press releases and news.

You don't have to feature documents on every topic, and you don't have to use all 5 slots.

If you do feature stuff, then you should be prepared to commit to curating the topic on an ongoing basis (don't feature something and forget to come back and remove it or update it).

Which department leads for each topic

Earlier in the year (while working on creating policy pages) we agreed the following lead responsibilities for topics among the ministerial departments. We suggest that departments work together to agree which content should be featured on each topic, deferring to the lead department in each case as listed below:

  • BIS: Business and enterprise; Further education and skills; Higher education; Regulation reform; Science and innovation; Consumer rights and issues; Trade and investment
  • Cabinet Office: Public safety and emergencies; Government efficiency, transparency and accountability; Community and society (joint with DCLG); Economic growth (joint with HMT); National security (joint with MOD)
  • DCLG: Housing; Planning and building; Local government; Community and society (joint with CO)
  • DCMS: Arts and culture; Sports and leisure; Media and communications; Equality, rights and citizenship (GEO)
  • DECC: Energy; Climate change
  • Defra: Environment; Food and farming; Rural and countryside; Wildlife and animal welfare
  • DFE: Schools; Children and young people
  • DFID: International aid and development
  • DFT: Transport
  • DH: National Health Service; Public health; Social care;
  • DWP: Employment; Pensions and ageing society; Welfare
  • FCO: Foreign affairs; Europe
  • HMT: Economic growth (joint with CO); Public spending; Financial services; Tax and revenue
  • Home Office: Borders and immigration; Crime and policing
  • MOD: Defence and armed forces; National security (joint with CO)
  • MOJ: Law and the justice system
  • Northern Ireland Office: Northern Ireland
  • Scotland Office: Scotland
  • Wales Office: Wales

Any questions?

I am sure you have many. Please fire away. In the interests of keeping this post brief and giving you as much notice as possible, I've stuck to the bare facts. Let us know whats not clear via the comments and we'll follow up with more blog posts as needed.

Sharing and comments

Share this page


  1. Comment by Michael Williams posted on

    It'll be interesting to see how this affects traffic.

    Is the featured image meant to be full size - 960 x 640 - or is the CSS not working properly (see welfare on preview)?

    It took me a while to find the unfeature button in the doc list - rather than the featured list as for the home page.

  2. Comment by Neil Williams posted on

    Hi Michael

    Yes that's the design. When there is one featured document the image is shown full size. When you add more than one featured document, the layout changes accordingly.

    We'll tidy up the UI for featuring at some point - I agree it needs work!

  3. Comment by Karen Heath posted on

    I have been researching the information provided to the public about council tax discount law.

    The web site provides links to local council web sites for more information.

    The quality of information on these web sites varies. Much of it is plain wrong and a great deal of it is misleading.

    For example, my own council has in the past acknowledged in response to complaints that information on its web site about the duties of a taxpayer in receipt of a 25% discounted bill to provide information to the council about new residents/newly adult residents misrepresented local taxation law.

    Some councils state that the categories of disregarded adults provided for under the Act are different discounts and that a taxpayer must by law inform the council if the basis for entitlement to a 25% discount changes from being the sole adult resident to being the sole adult resident who counts. One states that it is a criminal offence not to do this, when in terms of council tax law there is no such obligation. This was confirmed several times by the last Minister Bob Neill.

    Few councils explain that local taxation uses the concept of 'sole or main' residence or the Court of Appeal judgement on how to ascertain where the sole or main residence of a person is. (Williams v Horsham District Council). Should a case reach a valuation tribunal it will refer to this judgment in making its decisions.

    The DCLG does have some pages of its own about council tax discounts, but these are not easy to negotiate and fail to provide the crucial information about their legal position and duties and the duties of the council which persons really ought to be reading. Given that the links on very often lead people to incorrect information, it seems reasonable to expect the DCLG pages to provide clear information about the assumptions by reference to which council tax demand notices must be issued and the obligations (or lack of) of the taxpayer.

    The government pages include a hoary old myth that full council tax is based upon two residents when there is nothing at all in council taxation law to this effect. People appear to copy and paste content from other web sites without checking it. This is how misinformation spreads.

    Moreover, due to the misleading nature of the guidance provided to local councils in Audit Guides provided by the Audit Commission, many councils send out 'review' letters incorrectly informing people that council records show that they are receiving a discount because they live alone. This misrepresents the position as by law all 25% discounted bills are issued on the assumption that the same rate applies on every day of the coming year. The councils' records should not be showing that the council has failed to comply with the law, and if they do then it is the records which need to be altered.

    People have a right to ensure that data kept about them is accurate. Records might show that on a particular day in the past a person stated that on that date they were the only adult resident. This does not equate in terms of council tax law to a continuing 'claim' to be entitled on that basis. Nor does it mean that the discount was 'awarded' on that basis. The discount is 'awarded' when the bill issued, and the bill must be issued on the assumptions required by law.

    To make matters even more complicated, the Head of Revenue Services at Lancaster City Council, Mr Adrian Robinson is now asserting that council taxation law is 'wrong'. That isn't the way it works he says. He refuses to issue demand notices on the assumptions required by law, and he denies that the word 'shall' in Regulation 15 means 'must'.

    The government web site says that the bill will explain how the tax was calculated. Mr Robinson insists that he must tell me that he has calculated it on the basis that I literally live alone and that if this is not the case I have to tell him. He refuses to calculate the bill on the requirements laid down in law, and he insists that he must do otherwise to meet the requirements of the Auditors.

    Given this degree of blatant opposition to the law within councils, then it is even more important for the government web site to explain correctly the obligations of the taxpayer in terms of providing information to the CT departments of their local councils.

    As Bob Neill emphasised, and as valuation tribunal appeals confirm, there is no duty on the taxpayer to 'correct'

  4. Comment by Sam Brierley posted on

    Hi Neil

    How do you see topics and policies working for NMGDs?

    Whether or not users know (or care), the Charity Commission is independent of government. So we aren't charged with delivering its policies in the way that Ministerial departments are. Our objectives and functions are, in fact, set out by primary legislation...

    Do you think we'll need a separate topic and to translate our objectives/mission/whatever into individual policies?