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Monday 10 June 2024

It’s time to end civil service opposition costings

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The FDA is calling on the Conservative and Labour parties to commit to end the use of civil servants to cost the policies of opposition parties for all future elections.
This practice has not been restricted to this government. Previous administrations of different colours have used the process to try to undermine opposition policies in the runup to an election.
Following the events of the last week and the claims made by the Prime Minister and ministers regarding the costing of opposition policies by “independent civil servants”, FDA General Secretary Dave Penman has written to the Prime Minister and the leader of the Labour Party asking them to commit to abandon opposition costings entirely.
FDA General Secretary Dave Penman says: “The civil service is not independent. It offers impartial advice but it loyally serves the government of the day, no matter the colour.
“That makes this whole practice of using the civil service to cost opposition policies highly questionable; they will never be ‘independent’ calculations as they’re based on politically partial assumptions and completed at the direction of ministers.
“Dragging civil servants into political mudslinging during an election campaign undermines the impartiality of the civil service at a crucial time when they may be preparing to support a change of government.
“The Permanent Secretary to the Treasury should never be put in a position to comment publicly on opposition party policies and the circus we have seen play out over the last week is in nobody’s best interest.

“Whoever's in power is going to be tempted to try and create a veneer of independence around these kind of Treasury calculations to help their party politically. That is not what the civil service is for and so it’s time to end the use of civil servants to cost the policies of opposition parties for all future elections.”

The letter to Rishi Sunak, the Prime Minister, can be read here.

The letter to Keir Starmer, the leader of the Labour Party, can be read here.

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