Rishi Sunak has scrapped the target of axing 91,000 civil service jobs which was set under Boris Johnson’s Government, criticising “top-down targets”. He has also pledged to restart the fast-track scheme, saying he will “immediately” resume the recruitment of graduates. Mr Sunak had previously committed to cutting civil service numbers as part of a “shake up” of the “bloated post-Covid state”.
During summer’s leadership race, Mr Sunak also said he would “tackle Civil Service groupthink”.
Mr Sunak said: “As Chancellor I saw parts of the British Civil Service at its best, delivering world-class Covid support schemes in record time.
“But the bloated post-Covid state is in need of a shake-up so I will create a sharper, leaner civil service.
“I’ll press ahead with cuts to back office Civil Service headcount, recruiting and retaining the brightest and best.”
But earlier today, the Prime Minister U-turned on the issue, saying it is crucial to acquire fresh talent during a “very difficult moment” for the UK.
The FDA union, which represents senior civil servants, welcomed the reversal of the target, describing it as “intellectually flawed”.
However, they demanded further “clarity” on how staffing will be affected as Mr Sunak has said he still wants the number of Civil Service roles to fall.
Writing to civil servants, Mr Sunak said: “Together, we must make sure every taxpayer pound goes as far as it possibly can.
“These plans completely ignored the reality the Civil Service faces in 2022, with increased responsibilities as a result of Brexit, large backlogs as a result of the pandemic, a cost-of-living crisis and a war on European soil.
“As we’ve said from the start, simply reverting back to 2016 staffing numbers with no honest analysis of how this would impact the delivery of public services was always a recipe for disaster, and I’m glad the government has finally seen sense.”
But he warned that ditching the target “means little without that honesty from the Government on how it will match commitments with resources”