Mistakes of the Maude era must not be repeated

12 August 2021

The Times has reported today that ministers are considering reducing civil service headcount as part of the expected spending review.


It was suggested in the article that this would most likely be done by not filling vacancies.

Mike Clancy, General Secretary of Prospect, said:

“Dealing with the twin challenge of Brexit and Covid has demonstrated the clear need for a properly funded and fully staffed civil service. If reports are true that the government is considering reducing staff then they really haven’t learnt the lessons of the past few years.

“Achieving our climate goals is at least as big a challenge, for the whole of government, as Brexit and Covid have been. Retaining expertise and capacity will be essential. A smaller civil service will mean ever more responsibilities for already stretched workers, at a time when workload has increased because the civil service has now taken on all of the functions that used to be performed by the European Union. All this while civil servants are facing yet another real-terms pay cut.

“The mistakes of the Maude era must not be repeated, with indiscriminate deep head count reductions and the loss of vital scarce skills and corporate memory. This led to dramatic increases in expenditure on private sector consultants, an increase in costs and even more stretched service delivery.

“Contrary to reports there have been no discussions with the unions about headcount reductions.”

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