Chancellor Rishi Sunak is drawing up plans to impose big cuts in the UK civil service, and tens of thousands of jobs are expected to be lost across Whitehall over the next three years.
Sunak is working with the cabinet to oversee cuts as part of an effort to secure savings of 5 percent of Whitehall department’s daily budgets by 2024-25.
The unions warn that the cuts could undermine the government’s plans to transfer thousands of civil service jobs from Whitehall to the nations and regions of the UK as part of Boris Johnson’s efforts to “lift” backward areas.
In October, Sunak indicated in his spending audit, which determined Whitehall department budgets for the next three years, that he wanted the size of the civil service to return to pre-pandemic levels by the middle of the decade.
The number of civil servants in the UK reached 505,000 in September, compared to 456,000 in March 2020, just before the coronavirus crisis, according to data released by the Office for National Statistics this month.
Sunak’s goal would therefore be to cut 49,000 jobs over the next three years, but the cuts should be less serious as they should be limited to “the number of non-frontline officers”, meaning that about half of the employees are not affected.
It is estimated that 48 percent of civil servants work in the first jobs of “operational provision” such as the payment of social benefits and state pensions, issuing driver’s licenses and managing prisons.
However, Sunak is still likely to oversee the reduction of about 25,000 roles in the civil service, says Rhys Clyne, a researcher at the Government Institute, a research center.
He said the government has yet to explain what types of jobs are facing downsizing, but suggested that policy-making roles could be most vulnerable as those positions expanded significantly during the pandemic and after the 2016 EU referendum.
“The big growth since 2016 has been in politics professionals,” Clyne added. “This is understandable: there was a huge political task that came with the need to prepare for Brexit and the post-Brexit situation, and then the pandemic threw out a number of major political problems that needed to be addressed.”
Ministers will try to avoid mandatory layoffs in favor of not filling positions in the civil service because officials either resign to go to work elsewhere or retire, according to people instructed in the plans.
The Ministry of Treasury is expected to determine the parameters of the program at the beginning of next year, these people added.
A Treasury spokesman said the government had increased Whitehall department’s total spending in the spending audit.
“We expect that the departments will return the number of employees in the civil service that is not on the front line to the levels of 2019-20 without major layoffs,” the spokesman added. “This will help fund more front-line roles and provide better services for the British.”
The FDA union, which represents professionals and managers in the civil service, said the planned layoffs could undermine the government’s program that 22,000 roles should be moved from London to the regions by 2030.
“At a time when the government has to deal with the long-term consequences of Covid-19, the still uncertain outcomes of Brexit and a strong commitment to equalization, the abolition of tens of thousands of civil service jobs will inevitably mean it has to do something,” said Dave Penman. FDA.
“As the old saying goes, to rule means to choose, and any serious government must reconcile obligations with resources.”