26 September 2023

UNITED KINGDOM: ‘Colossal presence’ of State not needed

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United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson has written to Public Servants justifying his plan to cut 91,000 jobs, saying the Government must reduce its costs “just as many families are doing”.

The Prime Minister said that as Britain had left the European Union (Brexit) and with the COVID-19 pandemic subsiding “we no longer require the State to have the same colossal presence in people’s lives”.

“We must ensure the cost of Government is no greater than absolutely necessary to deliver for the people we serve,” Mr Johnson said.

“As many families and businesses now look at how to reduce their costs in a period of higher global inflation, it is right that we do the same.”

Cabinet Ministers have been given a month to come up with plans for reducing headcounts in their Department by up to 20 per cent and that they should “show discipline in your recruitment”.

Senior Whitehall sources said they hoped not to have to axe any jobs, but rather fulfil the 91,000 reduction by hiring fewer people to replace those leaving the Public Service.

Cabinet Secretary, Simon Case, who heads the Public Service, has also sent a letter to workers in which he acknowledged that although the job cuts would be “challenging”, staffing levels had risen significantly since 2016, partly due to the pandemic.

In 2016 the State employed the fewest Public Servants since World War II, but due to Brexit and the pandemic that number rose to 475,000 at the end of 2021.

The Government said it had not completely ruled out a total recruitment freeze or compulsory redundancies in order to reduce staffing levels.

General Secretary of the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union, Mark Serwotka said the Public Service had reached a “tipping point” and that national strike action was realistic.

Mr Serwotka said the Public Service was already struggling with a backlog of passports, driving licences, court cases and pension payments due to “chronic understaffing and a recruitment crisis”.

London, 3 June 2022

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