Whitehall ‘blob’ will be cut down to size as civil service needs major reduction, says Oliver Dowden
- Oliver Dowden insists the Government is determined to slim down civil service
- This is despite a previous target for reductions being abandoned by government
- He said most departments are now facing ‘quite substantial’ budget reductions
The Whitehall ‘blob’ will be cut down to size, a Cabinet minister has vowed.
Oliver Dowden told MPs the Government remains committed to slimming down the civil service, even though a previous target for major reductions has been abandoned.
He said the workforce needs to be reduced to the level it was at before major recruitment drives to deal with Covid-19 and prepare for Brexit.
Mr Dowden said most departments are facing ‘quite substantial’ budget reductions that will lead to a ‘reduction in head count’. He warned ‘nothing is off the table’ when asked if ministers’ private offices and special advisers could also be at risk.
Oliver Dowden told MPs the Government remains committed to slimming down the civil service, even though a previous target for major reductions has been abandoned
Figures show the civil service workforce stood at 510,080 last March, up from 418,343 in 2016. Boris Johnson’s administration set out plans to cut up to 91,000 jobs to save money but the target was scrapped by Rishi Sunak when he took office.
Asked by the public administration and constitutional affairs committee if the Government was committed to reducing the civil service size, the Cabinet Office minister replied: ‘I’m determined to ensure we actually achieve a reduction… and a reduction in budget commensurate with that.’
The budget for the Cabinet Office – which he described as the HQ of Government – will fall from £2.1billion in 2021-22 to £1.1billion in 2024-25.
However the department’s Permanent Secretary Alex Chisholm told the committee that compulsory redundancies are unlikely.
‘We’re very used to people coming into the department doing a stint and then moving out and that means that actually our total numbers are more kind of flexible than perhaps some other departments would find. So I would anticipate that would be through natural departures rather than forced departures.’
Ministers are also carrying out an ‘efficiency and savings review’ as a result of soaring inflation eating into budgets and Government departments must submit their proposals to the Treasury by the end of the month.
Mr Dowden said ‘inevitably’ there will be inefficiency in the civil service given its size but denied there was a culture of waste.
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