THE GOVERNENT wants to sack 91,000 civil service jobs to save money, the UK’s top civil servant says.
The aim is to return to 2016 staffing levels within three years, Cabinet Secretary Simon Case said in a letter to civil servants.
At an away-day in Stoke-on-Trent on Thursday, the prime minister gave ministers a month to produce plans to drastically shrink the civil service, as the government comes under increasing pressure over the rising cost of living.
Johnson told the Daily Mail: ‘We have got to cut the cost of government to reduce the cost of living.’
The Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) responded angrily on Friday, with a threat of strike action.
General secretary, Mark Serwotka, said ‘hardworking PCS members who kept the country running throughout the pandemic… will not be the scapegoats for a failing government.
‘The government complains about longer delays for passports and driving licences at the same time as sacking the people who are working so hard to clear the backlog,’ said Serwotka.
‘This is not about efficiency. This is about the prime minister trying to create a smokescreen to detract from his utter shambles of a government.’
The union will hold its annual conference in 10 days, with national strike action ‘very much on the table’, he added.
Cabinet Office minister Jacob Rees-Mogg said a suggested £3.75bn annual saving was ‘realistic’.
Simon Case, wrote to civil servants on Thursday night, acknowledged the job cuts would be ‘challenging’ and that civil service staffing had grown ‘substantially’ since 2016, partly because of the pandemic.
On Friday – following press coverage – the permanent secretary at HMRC apologised that staff had learned of potential job cuts ‘from the media rather than from me or civil service leaders’.
He said no decisions had been taken on how the cuts would be made, or how they would impact HMRC, but pledged to keep staff informed and thanked them for their hard work.
Mr Rees-Mogg – the minister in charge of efficiency – told the BBC the government needed to have ‘control of ‘and ensure efficiency’ during the cost of living crisis. We’ve taken on quite a number of additional staff – indeed 91,000 – to deal with Covid and some of the consequences of Brexit.
‘Those two issues are now fading therefore we can get back to the numbers we previously had.’
Rees-Mogg would not be drawn on what the freed-up cash would be spent on, saying it was up to Chancellor Rishi Sunak to decide.
It will most likely be spent on the war against Russia in the Ukraine.