The “centre right” think tank, Institute for Government” (IFG) pretty joyfully reports the slashing of civil service jobs in “Whitehall Monitor No 8”:
“…there is now a serious and momentous drive to reduce the number of civil servants in Whitehall…with the cuts running at more than twice the rate in the public sector overall…In some cases, the reductions are quite staggering…Using any comparable programme from history, this is unprecedented progress. What is crucial is that departments match these head-count reductions with equally enthusiastic programmes to modernise the way they do business, ensuring that a high quality of public service can be maintained”.
Ignoring the slathering reference to “progress”, it is absolutely the case that the run down in civil service jobs is unprecedented and it will certainly not be accompanied by the maintenance of a high quality public service.
Key points to note include;
“Parts of Whitehall are on the ‘fast-track’ of headcount reductions, moving well ahead of the public sector average (3.16%1). BIS, DCLGand Home Office have all seen their core department cut by more than 15% with DCLG seeing reductions of nearly 20% since the spending review”.
“Since the spending review several (Whitehall) departments have reduced by more than 15% of FTE:
· DCLG have cut their core dept by 19.8% FTE
· Home Office have cut their core dept by 17.6% FTE
· BIS have cut their core dept by 15.7% FTE.”
“The non-Whitehall figures for departments reveal a slower rate of reduction than the core departments in most cases, but with an average reduction of 5%, it still is moving faster than the public sector as a whole. In percentage terms, there are several departments moving ahead of the pack…In its non-core (non-Whitehall) business, Cabinet Office has seen cuts of 24% – largely due to the reductions in COI.”
“In absolute terms, the non-Whitehall FTE reduction in DWP stands out by a mile, reducing by 9050 FTE since the spending review. A large portion of this comes from cuts to Job Centre Plus, but significant numbers have also gone from its other agencies & ALBs.”
Whatever the precise figures the civil service job loss is already significant and will grow. The current industrial action focus is fundamentally on pensions and the “economic” campaign is essentially restricted to national propaganda about PCS’ “alternative”. The defence of jobs is part of the NEC’s industrial action mandate and we need clear demands backed up by a clear national campaign.
Who is being made redundant?
The Tory/Liberal changes to severance terms mean that there are now four types of civil servant being made redundant
a) Staff who want to stay in civil service employment but who were made compulsorily redundant.
b) Staff who actually wanted to leave on voluntary terms;
c) Staff who want to stay in civil service employment but who “volunteered” for redundancy because they had a financial gun to their heads. Most obviously this affects long serving staff. For example faced with a compulsory payment of one month’s salary for every year worked up to a maximum of 12 months salary or a “volunteer” departure on one month’s salary for every year worked up to a maximum of 21 months pay, with the possibility of converting that payment into an immediately payable pension if they are aged 50+.
d) Staff who wanted to leave voluntarily but awaited compulsory notice because there is no financial difference between the voluntary and compulsory terms in their case but for whom the notice period or compensation in lieu of notice is greater under the compulsory terms. For example staff who have only worked eight years would therefore get eight months salary irrespective of whether they leave on voluntary or on compulsion. However the vast majority of existing civil servants are entitled to 6, 9 or 12 months compulsory notice, depending on age and length of service, as opposed to the 3 months notice under the Maude changes.