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“Ministers decide the shape and remit of the civil service”

The FDA has responded to a report from the Taxpayers’ Alliance that highlights the growth in the civil service headcount since 2016. FDA Assistant General Secretary Lucille Thirlby told GB News that “the case that the civil service is growing exponentially beyond any means, and by its own volition, is a complete nonsense. Ministers decide the shape and remit of the civil service”. 

Thirlby continued that “there are legitimate reasons for the growth in numbers of staff”, pointing out that complaining about growth in the civil service between 2016 and 2023 showed no consideration for Brexit, the pandemic or the array of government priorities.

FDA National Officer Steven Littlewood continued this point on Talk TV, telling Jeremy Kyle and Conservative MP Alec Shelbrooke:

“If we go back to 2016… the civil service had the lowest headcount since the end of the Second World War and since then they’ve had to deal with the two biggest public policy challenges since the Second World War, in Brexit and the pandemic… it’s no surprise that the numbers have gone up in that time.

“Let’s not forget that civil servants aren’t just mandarins sitting in Whitehall. They are people working in the Border Force, in prisons, people working in the DVLA, in the Passport Office, dealing with backlogs.

“Ultimately the government decides the size and remit of the civil service. If you really want to know why the civil service has increased by that number since 2016… ultimately you’ll have to ask the government.”

The TPA report also spoke of “grade inflation” and the increase in the number of civil servants in higher grades. Littlewood highlighted that “senior civil servant pay has declined by 26% since 2010 in real terms… The Civil Service Pay Remit this year was 4.5% compared to an average of 7.5% in the private sector. The idea that these people are earning more than anyone else is simply ridiculous.”

On GB News, Thirlby stated that “the civil service pay system is fundamentally broken” and that she does not recognise the report’s characterisation of civil service pay:

“There is a cost to paying people within the civil service and within public services, but the evidence we provided to both the Senior Salaries Review Body and the government itself… shows that civil service pay is not keeping pace with the private sector or other public sector bodies, and there are recruitment and retention issues which means there is more churn, which means it costs the government more money”. 
Channel website: https://www.fda.org.uk/

Original article link: https://www.fda.org.uk/home/Newsandmedia/News/Ministers-decide-the-shape-and-remit-of-the-civil-service.aspx

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