Civil service ‘needs to be properly resourced’ for Brexit

2 May 17

The civil service needs to be properly resourced and have a clear understanding of its role ahead of Brexit, the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee has said.

Today’s PACAC report states the government needs to be pressed “to ensure that the civil service is appropriately skilled, resourced and focused to meet the significant challenges that it faces both over the course of the negotiations and following the UK’s exit from the European Union”.

The committee have stated that an in-depth review of the relationship between ministers and civil servants is required as the service gets to grips with taking back responsibility for policy and regulation in a wide range of areas, such as agriculture and financial services.

In addition to resourcing, some of the key areas the committee said needed to be explored include maintaining sufficient levels of subject expertise in the civil service, reviewing how government contracts should affect accountability for service failure and improving the support provided by the Civil Service Leadership Academy.

Bernard Jenkin MP, chair of PACAC, said: "We believe that this is the first time that there has been select committee consideration of the relationship between ministers and officials with the active support of government and the civil service.

“When this committee is reformed after the election, we do hope that it will continue this work, working in cooperation with government, and take forward our initial findings in this area.”

The civil service union said the report showed the government was “failing” to match its commitment to resourcing the civil service as it was trying to do “Brexit on the cheap”.

Dave Penman, general secretary of trade union FDA, said: “With the civil service now 26% smaller than it was a decade ago, the report highlights, as others have done, that the government struggles to prioritise, with ‘too many projects, programmes of activity and policy delivery commitments being pursued simultaneously with little chance of success’.”

Penman added that morale was low among civil servants with only a fifth of FDA members believing their department has sufficient resources to meet the demands of the year ahead.

He said: “The general election provides an opportunity for a new government, of whatever colour, to think again about the demands placed on the civil service – and the resources needed to meet those challenges.”

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