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Did the Civil Service fall apart in 2016?

Is a reduction in staffing levels to that of six years ago really such a hardship for the Civil Service? The proposal comes as airlines are struggling to get their staff numbers back to pre-pandemic levels, so surely there are a few who could be gainfully employed as baggage handlers?

Just think, too, how bad things would be at airports had they not had the go-slow at the Passport Office keeping the number of travellers down. Ten weeks is the quoted time, leading to many families abandoning their summer holiday plans again after two years of madness. I know – my family is waiting for one that is “in the post” too.

Just 384,000 civil servants were employed in 2016, but numbers steadily rose until they reached 475,000 at the end of last year. The civil service delivers a wide range of public services, and its role is to support the government in implementing policies. It was historically politically impartial, but pretty much the only place you’ll still find that view upheld is the BBC. Hence the predictable outcry.

It is at pains to remind us that the 2016 figure was the lowest since the Second World War but didn’t think it relevant to point out the fact that computers have come on a little since then. The current figure represents the most serious rise in numbers since Tony Blair tried to eliminate unemployment by putting everyone without a job onto the public payroll – whether there was anything for them to do or not.

Even the fast-track recruitment process for graduates faces suspension for at least a year in a move to reduce staffing numbers as the government aims to cut 20% of jobs to get the civil service back to 2016 levels.

The thing is, I remember no outcry at long waits for passports in 2016. In fact, numbers have risen 25% and services have got worse. No, the excuse of “working” from home doesn’t wash. To recover from enforced closures, commercial organisations are having to tighten their belts and graft. It’s only right that the civil service does the same.

Martin Day – Party Secretary

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