The prime minister is understood to have told his cabinet that he wants to reduce the government’s workforce by a fifth (Picture: Getty)
Boris Johnson has ordered ministers to cut around 90,000 Civil Service jobs to free up cash for measures to ease the cost-of-living crisis.
The prime minister is understood to have told his cabinet on Thursday that he wants to reduce the government’s workforce by a fifth.
The move could save an estimated £3.5bn, freeing up resources to help ease the cost of living through tax cuts or other measures.
But the FDA civil servants union warned the ‘ill thought out’ proposal would not lead to a more cost-effective government and could have impacts on passport processing, borders and health.
Mr Johnson told the Daily Mail: ‘We have got to cut the cost of government to reduce the cost of living.’
Sources familiar with Mr Johnson’s cabinet conversation said he told ministers to return the Civil Service to its 2016 levels in the coming years.
It was said its numbers have grown since then to 475,000 full-time equivalent jobs.
The PM made the demands at a regional cabinet meeting in Stoke-on-Trent (Picture: Andrew Parsons / No10 Downing Street)
The PM suggested the billions saved could be used for tax cuts, saying: ‘Every pound the government pre-empts from the taxpayer is money they can spend on their own priorities, on their own lives.’
He told the Mail, which first reported on the cuts, that the civil service had become ‘swollen’ during the pandemic.
Mr Johnson wants a recruitment freeze across Whitehall to start soon, with the abolition of any vacancies unless they are signed off by ministers.
Ministers are expected to report back within a month with plans for achieving the cuts from their departments.
FDA general secretary Dave Penman said the expansion of Whitehall since 2016 was necessary to ‘deal with the consequences of two unprecedented events – Brexit and the Covid pandemic’.
‘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?’ he said.
He described the announcement as ‘either another headline-grabbing stunt or a reckless slash-and-burn to public services’.
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He added: ‘Without an accompanying strategy, these cuts appear more like a continuation of the government’s civil service culture wars, or even worse, ill-thought out, rushed job slashes that won’t lead to a more cost-effective government.’
Mr Johnson is facing mounting pressure to do more to help struggling families amid soaring inflation and energy bills, with Tory MPs pressing for tax cuts and Labour accusing him of being ‘bereft of ideas’.
Although he vowed to get the UK ‘back on track’ in his introduction to the …read more
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