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Tuesday 03 October 2023

Chancellor’s announcement on civil service recruitment “straight out of the Rees-Mogg playbook”, says FDA

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Sean Aidan Calderbank, via Shutterstock

After Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt announced a cap on civil service expansion at the Conservative Party Conference, FDA General Secretary Dave Penman responded:

“Jeremy Hunt may pride himself on being on the pragmatic wing of his party, but his announcement on civil service numbers is straight out of the Jacob Rees-Mogg playbook.

“Just like with the earlier Rees-Mogg announcement that the civil service would return to pre-Brexit staffing levels, picking a point in time in the past and deciding that is the right number of staff to deal with the public service challenges of the future is intellectually bereft. It is so glaringly arbitrary that all it does is demonstrate that this is not a serious government."

Penman continued:

“Governments are of course free to decide the size of the public sector, but ministers need to be honest with the public about the consequences of those decisions. Many public services are still on their knees post-COVID, we have had a cost-of-living crisis, a war on mainland Europe and record levels of illegal immigration. What we need is a government with a clear agenda on what it wants to deliver, and a realistic assessment of the resources it needs to achieve that. Pretending COVID, or Brexit for that matter, is ‘over’ and we can simply turn the clock back to a magical point in the past is fantasy politics of the worst kind.

“As with Johnson’s government, announcements that have a profound impact on hundreds of thousands of committed public servants are used as party political stunts, with little regard for the organisation that ministers, not least the Prime Minister, are supposed to lead.

“Officials will now be left with thousands of questions from staff that they cannot answer as they look to retro-fit workforce plans to another arbitrary headcount figure.”

Penman's word have been quoted by the Telegraph, Independent, Daily Mail, and the i

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