Arbitrary cuts to Senior Civil Service will undermine new Ministers

12 May 2010
For immediate release

As Britain enters its first era of coalition Government for 70 years, the experience of Senior Civil Servants will be critical to the success of Ministers. Arbitrary cuts of 20% to the Senior Civil Service planned by the outgoing Labour Government should be suspended, says the FDA, the union representing senior staff in Government and the public services.

Jonathan Baume, FDA General Secretary, said:

"Westminster and Whitehall are witnessing the first coalition Government for 70 years. The skills and experience of Senior Civil Servants in developing and implementing policies will be essential to new Ministers as they face up to the UK's fiscal crisis, and work to rebuild trust in our political institutions. This will be further complicated by the unique dynamics of managing coalition politics.

"Over recent days, the Senior Civil Service has performed a superb job in planning for and managing a complex, but successful process of supporting politicians from the major parties to help form a stable Government. This has emphasised the value to Britain of a politically impartial, permanent civil service and is a tribute to Sir Gus O'Donnell and senior colleagues in the Cabinet Office and other departments.

"The Labour Government announced arbitrary cuts of 20% to the Senior Civil Service by 2011 in its Smarter Government White Paper published in December 2009. Such cuts can only undermine the capacity of the new Government and Ministers to take on these challenges successfully.

"Over the lifetime of the Parliament, if the reach and scope of Government is reduced then inevitably there will be a smaller civil service. What is important is that the Government matches resources to the challenges and demands that it is facing, not arbitrarily reducing the resources available to it as the outgoing Labour Government had proposed."

Notes for editors

1. The FDA is the trade union and professional body representing 18,000 of the UK's senior civil and public servants. Our members include policy advisors, senior managers, tax inspectors, economists, statisticians, accountants, special advisers, government lawyers, diplomats, crown prosecutors and NHS managers.

2. Members in HMRC are represented by the Association of Revenue and Customs (ARC), a section of the FDA.

3. The FDA (formerly the First Division Association) should be referred to simply as "The FDA" and can be described as "the senior public servants' union".

4. For further information contact:
Jonathan Baume, FDA General Secretary, tel: 020 7401 5555 or 07976 951191.
Kay Hender, Communications Assistant, tel: 020 7401 5589.