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FDA tells MPs: Little progress made in creating SCS opportunities outside London

FDA Assistant General Secretary Amy Leversidge has told MPs that “the dysfunctional nature of strategy making in the civil service” is partly responsible for a lack of progress in moving civil servants out of London.

Appearing alongside colleagues from PCS and Prospect, before the House of Commons’ Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Select Committee (PACAC), Leversidge provided oral evidence for their ‘Planning for the future of the Government’s estates’ inquiry, which is exploring government plans to relocate civil servants.  

“We discuss Places for Growth, but that doesn’t relate to what they’re doing with pay, that doesn’t relate to what they are doing with civil service numbers, but all of those things will have an interaction with each other,” she continued. 

Leversidge demonstrated this with the government’s previous plans to cut 91,000 jobs. She said this meant the government had “already lost one of the levers you can pull”, as it limited the amount of new posts outside of London that were being advertised.

The FDA supports the plan to move 20,000 civil service jobs out of London under the Places for Growth programme, but Leversidge told PACAC that progress has stalled. Quoting the union’s survey of senior civil servants, Leversidge informed Committee Chair William Wragg MP that only 14.1% of SCS members said that they were “highly engaged” with proposals to move jobs out of London, and only 3.6% have relocated in the past year. 

The Assistant General Secretary also told the Committee that for strategies like Places for Growth to work “ministers do need to be meaningfully working” outside of London as “the centre of gravity for every department is the minister, so if the minister is not based outside of London… the SCS posts will be drawn back”.

Again highlighting the dysfunctionality of government strategies for the civil service, Leversidge argued that you cannot “divorce” the reluctance of senior civil servants to work away from ministers “from ministerial attitudes that we’ve seen around hybrid working”. Leversidge said this had given “the impression that if you’re not directly seen by a minister then you’re not getting on with your job”, disincentivising relocation. 

“The constant drumbeat we’ve had since 2016 of attacking civil servants”, continued Leversidge, alongside 10 years of falling real-terms wages, the plan to cut 91,000 jobs, and issues if ministerial behaviour “is having an incredibly damaging impact on morale and motivation”. As a result, the biggest concern is not that civil servants aren’t moving out of London, but they are “looking to leave the civil service”, as they can receive considerably better pay elsewhere. 

Leversidge also discussed the momentous decision of FDA Fast Stream members to vote to take strike action. She warned that “chronic and longstanding issues with the pay structure” have actually left many Fast Stream members “terrified” of being placed in London due to the cost of housing, with many looking to leave the scheme altogether. 

You can watch parts of Leversidge's appearance on the FDA Twitter page.

Channel website: https://www.fda.org.uk/

Original article link: https://www.fda.org.uk/home/Newsandmedia/News/FDA-tells-MPs-Little-progress-made-in-creating-SCS-opportunities-outside-London.aspx

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