Tributes have been paid to a “true public servant of the highest integrity”, Lord Bob Kerslake, after his family announced he has died.

The former head of the civil service, 68, died on Saturday after “a short battle with cancer”, his “devastated” sister Ros Kerslake CBE said in a post on social media on Sunday morning.

Former prime minister David Cameron called him a “committed public official” and said that he “served the Coalition Government with great professionalism after a long career in local government”.

Senior Labour Party figures including leader Sir Keir Starmer; shadow health secretary Wes Streeting; former shadow chancellor John McDonnell; and mayor of London Sadiq Khan, were also among those who paid their respects to the crossbench peer.

He was nominated for a peerage by Mr Cameron and ennobled following his retirement as permanent secretary at the Department for Communities and Local Government, with the peerage was conferred by the late Queen in 2015.

Lord Kerslake was also a chairman of King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust in south London but he quit the role in 2017, warning that the health service could not continue “staggering along” under the current funding levels.

Lord Kerslake.
Lord Kerslake (Victoria Jones/PA)

Announcing the news on Twitter, Ros Kerslake wrote: “My brother Bob (Lord Robert Kerslake) died yesterday after a short battle with cancer. We are all devastated.”

In another tweet, Eleanor Kerslake added: “Unfortunately my wonderful dad Bob Kerslake died yesterday.

“We are all devastated.

“Dad had a few jobs in his time but the most important to him was being a truly fantastic husband, dad, brother, son and granddad.”

“I’m very sorry to learn that Bob Kerslake has died,” Sir Keir tweeted on Sunday.

“Bob was a talented public servant, utmost professional, and a good man.

“He was rightly respected across Westminster for his experience and wisdom, and I’m grateful for his recent contributions to the Labour Party.

“Sincere condolences to his family.”

Cabinet Secretary Simon Case said he was “deeply saddened” by the news.

“Bob will always be remembered for his immense contribution to public life, including during his time as head of the Civil Service,” he said in a statement.

Labour veteran Mr McDonnell tweeted: “Just heard the terribly sad news Bob Kerslake has died.

“I’ve known Bob from when he was with us at the GLC (Greater London Council).

“He was a true public servant of the highest integrity, dedicating his life to caring for people & tackling inequality wherever he found it. My condolences to his family.”

Mr Streeting said his death was “terribly sad news”.

“Bob was such a committed and decent public servant taken far too soon,” he tweeted.

“Deepest condolences to your family and all those who knew and loved him.”

Mr Khan hailed him as “a true public servant”.

“His kindness and commitment to improving our city and country will always be remembered,” he added.

“My thoughts are with his family and friends today.”

Mark Lloyd, chief executive at the Local Government Association, paid tribute to the peer who served as president of the body between 2015 and 2021.

He said: “Bob was a giant of local government and remained a passionate champion during his time as our president and far beyond.

“He will be missed.”

Lord Kerslake also chaired the independent review into Greater Manchester’s preparedness and response to the Manchester Arena bombing in 2017.