Boris Johnson plans to axe 90,000 civil service jobs to fund tax cuts
The Prime Minister has told Cabinet ministers to come up with a plan to slash the civil service workforce by a fifth
Boris Johnson has tasked ministers to come up with plans to cut around 90,000 civil service jobs to free up billions of pounds for measures to ease the cost-of-living crisis, with possible tax cuts.
The Prime Minister is understood to have told his Cabinet on Thursday (12 May) that the service should be cut by a fifth, reducing the size of the 475,000-strong workforce to 2016 levels.
Mr Johnson made the demand during an away day with cabinet ministers in Stoke-on-Trent as his government faces increasing pressure to ease the pressure of soaring prices.
The Civil Service is a collective term for a sector of government that provides services directly to people all over the country, and is mainly composed of career civil servants who are hired on professional merit, rather than appointed or elected.
A civil servant, also known as a public servant, is someone who is employed in the public sector by a government department or agency, with services including:
Civil servants are employed by the “Crown” 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-departmental government bodies (NDPBs).
The Civil Service does not include government ministers (who are politically appointed), members of the British Armed Forces, the police, officers of local government or NDPBs of the Houses of Parliament, employees of the National Health Service (NHS), or staff of the Royal Household.
The service is coordinated and managed by the Prime Minister, in his role as Minister for the Civil Service, and the most senior civil servant in a department is a permanent secretary.
Sources familiar with Mr Johnson’s Cabinet conversation have said he told ministers to return the Civil Service to its 2016 levels in the coming years. The numbr of civil servants is said to have grown since 2016 to 475,000 full-time equivalent jobs.
Why does the PM want to cut civil servant jobs?
The job cuts are intended to help ease the current cost-of-living crisis gripping the country, with the billions saved expected to be used for tax cuts.
“Every pound the government pre-empts from the taxpayer is money they can spend on their own priorities, on their own lives.”
Mr Johnson wants a recruitment freeze across Whitehall to start soon, with the abolition of any vacancies unless they are signed off by ministers.
The government said that details of the plan would be set out in due course, and it is expected to save around £3.5 billion per year.
What’s been said about the plans?
The FDA civil servants union has warned that the “ill thought out” proposal would not lead to a more cost-effective government and could have impacts on passport processing, borders and health.
He said: “To govern is to choose and ultimately this government can decide to cut the civil service back to 2016 levels, but it will also then have to choose what the reduced civil service will no longer have the capacity to do. Will they affect passports, borders or health?
In a BBC interview, he said: “What I want to see is significant investment back into the UK economy to support jobs, to support energy security, and I want to see that investment soon. If that doesn’t happen, then no options are off the table.”