Reform plan fails to address civil servants’ reward anger

19 June 2012
For immediate release

Many aspects of the Government's Civil Service Reform Plan have received a cautious welcome today from the FDA, the union for senior public sector managers and professionals. However, there are areas of concern and the union will be seeking detailed consultation on these and on the implementation of the Reform Plan across departments.

Jonathan Baume, FDA General Secretary, said

"The Reform Plan rightly praises the work and capability of the civil service and the crucial role it plays across every part of the UK, and contains much that is non-contentious.

"However, Government and the civil service are facing unprecedented challenges as budgets are cut and staffing levels continue to fall. Whilst the FDA welcomes proposals that often build upon existing strands of work to enhance civil service capability, and effectively train and develop civil servants across many professional disciplines, no one should underestimate the current pressures upon individuals and departments. The challenge by 2015 of matching resources to workload in central government will be profound, given the many problems facing the country. FDA members will work hard to meet that challenge and we will engage constructively on reforms that facilitate delivery, but that cannot be a matter of simply adopting all that is being proposed today.

"The Reform Plan raises sensitive and complex issues including the relationship between civil servants and ministers, and their accountability to Parliament. The FDA remains committed to the political impartiality of the civil service and would oppose any proposals that would weaken it. Thorough and wide-ranging debate is necessary before changes are made to existing practices to ensure that the integrity of the civil service is not compromised.

"Moreover, whilst there is already considerable liaison in the development of policy between the civil service and organisations such as universities and think tanks, proposals to contract out the policy-making process raise significant practical as well as principled concerns. There is a danger that this could lead to a breakdown in the relationship between policy-making, operational delivery and the legislative process.

"Unacceptably, the Reform Plan shies away from recognising the real anger of many civil servants about the recent changes to pension arrangements, including significantly higher costs for individuals when pay remains frozen. The FDA has argued that a thorough overhaul of the total reward package for the more senior levels of the civil service is required to ensure that the civil service remains an attractive employer in a market where both the wider public sector and the private sector continue to offer often significantly higher levels of reward for comparable jobs.

"That said, we are currently working closely with departments and ministers on proposals to enhance training and development opportunities, and to ensure that civil servants continue to enjoy interesting and meaningful career prospects, which are critical if the civil service is to continue to recruit and retain many of the brightest employees in the UK economy."

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.
  • Oliver Rowe, FDA Communications Manager, tel: 020 7401 5588 or 07590 838696.