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 in Whitehall over the next three years.
Sunak is working with the Government Office to oversee cuts as part of an effort to secure savings worth 5 percent of Whitehall Department’s daily budgets by 2024-2025.
The unions warn that the cuts could undermine government plans to move thousands of civil service jobs from Whitehall to British nations and regions as part of Boris Johnson’s efforts to “lift” the areas left behind.
In October, Sunak indicated in his spending audit, which set Whitehall’s department’s 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 off-line officials”, meaning that about half of officials 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, according to Rhys Clyne, a researcher at the Government Institute, a research center, there is still a likelihood that Sunak will oversee the reduction of about 25,000 civil servants.
He said the government has yet to clarify exactly what types of jobs face 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 situation after Brexit, and then the pandemic threw a series of huge political problems that needed to be solved.”
Ministers will seek to avoid mandatory layoffs in favor of failing to serve in the civil service because officials either resign to go to work elsewhere or retire, according to people familiar with the plans.
The treasury is expected to determine program parameters early next year, the people added.
A treasury spokesman said the government had increased the department’s total spending in Whitehall in the spending review.
“We expect the departments to return the number of civil servants outside the front line to the 2019-2020 level 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 job cuts could undermine the government’s program to move 22,000 roles 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, cutting off tens of thousands of civil service jobs will inevitably mean giving something away,” said Dave Penman, FDA secretary general. .
“As the old saying goes, to rule means to choose, and any serious government must reconcile obligations with resources.”