Civil service ‘needs cash boost to deliver Brexit’

11 May 17

Britain’s civil service needs urgent investment if it is to take on the challenge of Brexit, the union for senior civil servants has warned.

Speaking today at the FDA’s annual conference general secretary Dave Penman cautioned that the civil service – which is at its smallest since the Second World War – is in desperate need of extra resources.

He made clear civil servants who will be instrumental in ensuring the success or failure of the negotiations to leave the EU.

“A strong civil service that can support the negotiations, prepare for and implement the outcome whilst at the same time delivering high quality public services,” he said.

He pointed out: “You don't get a strong civil service by drastically cutting the resources and at the same time piling up the demands”.

A recent report by the Institute for Government on the topic of extending the free movement principle said that the government may need to hire 5,000 civil servants just to deal with immigration applications.

According to a study of its 18,000 members, the FDA says life in the civil service is at a critical juncture.

Among its findings, the FDA’s Working Hours Survey shows that 91% of members already work more than their contracted hours every week​, with 41% working more than six hours extra every week​.

Some 29% are already working at least nine hours unpaid​ each week​ – meaning they are effectively working a six-day week without compensation.

Two thirds (67%) of respondents said they had worked while on sick or annual leave in the last year​, while half said they were un​able to take their full annual leave entitlement in the past year – with workload the most commonly cited reason for this.

Penman said: "You don't get a strong civil service if a quarter of staff are working the equivalent of a six-day week and one in ten is working the equivalent of a seven-day week.”

He also criticised the slow growth of civil service pay packets over the last decade, which he says means some staff have less money in real terms than they did in 2010 and vacant top jobs go unfilled due to lack of competitive pay.

Today’s warning from the FDA follows a similar alert from the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee, which said 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”.

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