26 September 2023

UNITED KINGDOM: PS numbers swell even as more leave

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While the United Kingdom Public Service has continued to grow overall, Cabinet Office statistics have revealed that people are leaving it at a faster rate than at any time in the last decade.

The figures showed there were 478,090 Public Servants as of March, up from 452,830 the year before.

However, 44,220 people left the Public Service during 2021-22 — a massive increase compared to the previous year, when 27,830 left.

This is the highest number of leavers since 2011-12, when 46,110 officials departed.

Greater numbers compare with 69,400 people entering the bureaucracy, up from 57,200 in 2021-21.

This is the highest joining rate since 1975, according to the Cabinet Office.

The big increase is partly explained by the 7,000 Community Rehabilitation Company staff transferred to HM Prison and Probation Service as part of the re-nationalisation of privatised probation services.

Even without this transfer, the joining rate would still be the highest in the past decade.

This headcount surge of around 25,000 happened in a year when Ministers pledged to cut an ever-increasing proportion of the Public Service, culminating in the latest plan to cut 91,000 jobs.

A Cabinet Office spokesperson said the figures “reflect the growth in the Civil Service since 2016, which in turn naturally means more people are likely to leave as a matter of course”.

“While a number of roles linked to leaving the European Union (Brexit) and coordinating the Government’s pandemic response have been phased out, staff turnover remains lower than it was in 2015,” the spokesperson said.

They also attributed the increase in resignations to people putting off decisions about work during the pandemic, as seen elsewhere in the labour market.

The Ministry of Justice has had the biggest churn in staff, with around 18,180 (about a quarter of all total recruits) joining the Department and its Agencies and 9,780 leaving.

The rising headcount across Government continues the upward trend since 2016, with Ministers promising earlier this year to bring the Public Service back down to pre-Brexit numbers within the next three years.

The most common reason for leaving the Public Service this year was resignation, accounting for 23,870 exits.

The second most common reason for leaving was retirement (10,450).

London, 29 July 2022

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