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Wednesday 02 November 2022

Reversals on job cuts and Fast Stream welcomed but concerns remain

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The FDA has welcomed the Prime Minister’s message to all civil servants yesterday, confirming the 91,000 reduction in headcount by 2025 and the pausing of the Fast Stream that were announced earlier this year have been reversed. 

However, concerns remain regarding how Rishi Sunak will resource his commitments when he has promised departmental efficiencies. 

Sunak told civil servants that “we must make sure every taxpayer pound goes as far as it possibly can” and that he does not believe “top-down targets for Civil Service headcount reductions” is the correct approach to achieve this, confirming that his government will not pursue the reduction of the civil service headcount to pre-2016 levels. 

Responding to the Prime Minister's message the FDA’s General Secretary, Dave Penman, said “I am glad the government has finally seen sense” and “we welcome the Prime Minister’s decision to row back on the 91,000 civil service job cuts”, as the FDA has campaigned for. “As we’ve said from the start” argues Penman, “simply reverting back to 2016 staffing number with no honest analysis of how this would impact the delivery of public services was always a recipe for disaster.” 

Sunak also confirmed that the government will no longer pause the Fast Stream programme:

“I am also determined that this government will invest in your talent and help to develop future leaders. The Civil Service Fast Stream is one important part of this and so I am acting immediately to ensure this continues without missing a year.”

Penman responded that the original decision to pause the scheme “was an act of self-sabotage” as “in one fell swoop cut one of the most cost-efficient sections of the civil service work force, damaged morale of those already on the scheme and pushed away high-performing graduates from a career in public service.” 

As reported in the Daily Express, Penman said the decision to pause the Fast Stream was “based on the intellectually flawed target of reducing the civil service workforce back to 2016 numbers.”

FDA National Officer, Lauren Crowley, stated that she was please the Fast Stream has been immediately reinstated as “it’s of incredible value to the civil service and a huge victory for the FDA”. Crowley added that the FDA will continue “to make sure Fast Streamers are paid their worth.” 

However, the Prime Minister continued “the Chancellor and I will be asking every government department to look for the most effective ways to secure value and maximise efficiency within budgets”. The reversal of the 91,000 job cuts and the reinstatement of the Fast Stream means little without clarity from the government about these departmental efficiencies and how they plan to match their commitments with resources. 

Speaking to Civil Service World, Penman urged that “ministers must also now take action to ensure that our dedicated public servants receive pay awards that properly take account of cost-of-living pressures, and recognise the vital work they do.”
20th Nov 2023
Scott Dobson reports on the FDA's historic win on Fast Stream pay.
8th Mar 2024
In 1958, the Council of Women Civil Servants dissolved itself, believing its objectives were met. Sixty years later, the FDA’s five surviving female presidents met to discuss the challenges still facing women in senior roles and to reflect on their time leading the union.
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