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Wednesday 01 February 2017

Suspending open and fair competition for Brexit is ‘a worrying development', says FDA

© Jess Hurd/reportdigital.co.uk

The FDA has raised concerns over special arrangements to recruit temporary staff to tackle the challenge of Brexit, which relax the long-standing rules on fair and open competition for recruitment to the civil service.

The arrangements, announced by the Civil Service Commission in February, mean departments can be granted exceptions to recruit staff in bulk without having to go through open and fair recruitment competitions.

Previously, staff hired in this manner could only serve for a maximum of two years, with salaries capped at £87,000. However, the new rules allow such staff to stay in their jobs for up to three years on salaries as high as £142,500, without requiring specific approval from the Commission.

While recognising the need for investment in both the capacity and capability of the civil service to deliver Brexit, the FDA is unconvinced that the requirement for open and fair selection should be set aside.

FDA General Secretary Dave Penman said he is “deeply concerned about the message this sends to civil servants and the public”, warning it could potentially threaten the political impartiality of the civil service.

“Brexit has been - and continues to be – one of the most polarising political events in recent times and it places an enormous challenge on both the Government and the civil service,” Penman explained. “There has rarely been a time when the requirement for the civil service to speak truth unto power has been needed more, yet the Commission is suspending the requirement for open and fair selection, one of the key principles that underpins a politically impartial civil service, for potentially large groups of staff being brought in to work on Brexit.

He added: "In the wake of calls from some ex-ministers to recruit 'cheerleader' civil servants to deliver Brexit, and following the departure of Sir Ivan Rogers as the UK's Ambassador to the EU, suspending the requirement for open and fair selection to a larger group of staff – at a more senior level and for longer – is a worrying development.”

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