Make government work better, say professionals

Make government work better, say professionals

Professional civil servants have called for a sea-change in the management of public service instead of Gordon Brown’s ‘scattergun’ set of cutbacks to civil and public services.

Attacking the Prime Minister’s measures today on operational efficiencies in central government, Prospect, the union for professionals, said it was wrong to make public servants the scapegoats for the private sector banking crisis.

Dai Hudd, Deputy General Secretary, said: “These attacks on the civil service are about short-term cost savings and not how to refocus the operational needs and business of government.

“Government and opposition parties are both talking about how the civil service should be streamlined – but no one is asking the fundamental question: what should it do and how should it be structured to deliver?

“The political parties should look at operational needs first and how best the civil service can meet those needs; and then what the size and scope of the civil service should be. Arbitrary top-down targets set in Whitehall will merely demotivate staff and damage performance.”

Hudd welcomed the Prime Minister’s ‘deathbed conversion’ to cutting down on consultancy costs, for which Prospect has been calling for years. Many more millions could be saved by building up in-house professional skills and further cutting the £900m bill for the use of outside consultants, he said.

“Gordon Brown’s rag-tag of cuts, privatisations, relocations and forced mergers will do little to solve the country’s financial problems and nothing for smarter government. It is short-term cost-cutting driven by politics that dodges the important decisions about the role of the state and how it should be carried out.”

Hudd pointed to the experience of the people of Cumbria in the recent floods crisis as ample evidence of a public service that the public is “more than happy to pay for.” And he criticised:

  • the failure of government to use its own workforce to tackle skills shortages of scientists and engineers
  • the false distinction between front-line and back-room services which devalues work that is essential to any successful enterprise
  • forced sale privatisations of Ordnance Survey and the Defence Storage and Distribution Agency, which both carry out vital functions in the national interest.