What is a civil servant? Why PM plans to cut 90,000 jobs

Advertisement

The Prime Minister has ordered Cabinet ministers to present a plan to cut the civil service workforce by a fifth

Boris Johnson has tasked ministers to draw up plans to cut around 90,000 public sector jobs to free up billions of pounds for measures to ease the cost of living crisis with possible tax cuts.

Advertisement

The prime minister is said to have told his cabinet on Thursday (12 May) that the service was to be cut by a fifth, bringing the 475,000 workforce back to 2016 levels.

Register to our Mazic News Today Newsletter

Boris Johnson has tasked ministers with drawing up plans to cut around 90,000 public sector jobs (Photo: Getty Images)

What is an officer?

Advertisement

The civil service is a collective term for a government sector that provides services directly to people across the country, and consists primarily of career civil servants hired on professional merit, rather than being appointed or elected.

A civil servant, also known as a civil servant, is someone employed in the public sector by a government department or agency, with services such as:

Advertisement
  • pay benefits and pensions
  • operation of employment agencies
  • operate prisons
  • issue driving licences

Staff also work on policy development and implementation, including analysts, project managers, lawyers and economists.

Civil servants are employed by the “Krone” and work for central and state governments. They are politically impartial and independent of government, with most working in central government departments, agencies and non-ministerial government bodies (NDPBs).

Advertisement

Civil servants do not include government ministers (who are politically appointed), members of the UK Armed Forces, the police, local government officials or NDPBs of the Houses of Parliament, National Health Service (NHS) staff or staff of the Royal Household.

The service is coordinated and directed by the Prime Minister in his capacity as Minister for Public Service and the most senior official in a ministry is a permanent secretary.

Advertisement

It includes 25 professions, from communicators and engineers to purchasing managers and lawyers.

Sources familiar with Mr Johnson’s cabinet talk said he had told ministers to bring the civil service back to 2016 levels in the years to come. The number of civil servants is said to have grown to 475,000 full-time positions since 2016.

Advertisement

Why does the prime minister want to cut civil servant positions?

The job cuts are intended to help ease the country’s current cost-of-living crisis, with the billions saved to be used for tax cuts.

Advertisement

The Prime Minister told the Daily Mail: “We need to cut government costs to bring down the cost of living.

“Every pound the government withholds from taxpayers is money to spend on their own priorities, on their own lives.”

Advertisement

Sources did not deny that the large-scale job cuts could be used for future tax cuts.

Mr Johnson wants a hiring freeze to begin across Whitehall soon, with the abolition of all vacancies unless approved by ministers.

Advertisement

Ministers are expected to come back from their departments within a month with plans to achieve the cuts.

The Government said the details of the plan would be finalized in due course and were expected to save around £3.5 billion a year.

Advertisement

What was said about the plans?

The FDA officials’ union has warned that the “ill-conceived” proposal would not result in more cost-effective government and could have implications for passport processing, borders and health.

Advertisement

FDA Secretary General Dave Penman said the expansion of Whitehall since 2016 was necessary to “manage the fallout from two unprecedented events – Brexit and the Covid pandemic”.

He said: “Governing is voting, and ultimately this government can decide to cut civil services to 2016 levels, but they must then also decide what the reduced civil services will no longer be able to do. Do they affect passports, borders or health?

Advertisement

“Without an accompanying strategy, these cuts look more like a continuation of the government’s culture wars in the civil service or, worse, ill-conceived, hasty job cuts that will not result in a more cost-effective government.”

Labor also criticized the plans, slamming the government for “once again letting working people down through pointless rhetoric and lack of action” rather than working to implement an emergency budget.

Advertisement

Meanwhile, Chancellor Rishi Sunak said he was “pragmatic” about potentially imposing an unexpected tax on oil and gas giants’ soaring profits as customer bills soar.

In a BBC interview, he said: “What I want to see is significant investment back into the UK economy to support jobs and to support energy security and I want to see that investment soon. If that doesn’t happen, there are no options off the table.”

Advertisement