Civil service reform can succeed

Value staff and reform can succeed says Prospect

Prospect, the union for 34,000 specialist civil servants in government, has backed the House of Commons Public Administration Select Committee’s finding that the current civil service reform plan is inadequate and not fit for purpose.

Prospect says fundamental civil service reform is long overdue, but called on government to take the process seriously as well.

The committee’s report, Truth to Power: how civil service reform can succeed, published today (Friday) calls for a Parliamentary commission to look at the nature, role and purpose of the civil service.

Prospect deputy general secretary Leslie Manasseh said: “Prospect is ready to play its part in a commission. The reform process must provide a genuine opportunity to talk to the unions representing the staff who deliver services and manage change.

“Prospect agrees that it is vital to review the role and purpose of the civil service. But this must be against a clear assessment of the future challenges faced by the government in an increasingly complex and changing world.”

Manasseh agreed with the PASC that the government’s approach to the civil service is characterised by a tendency to blame rather than to analyse and seek solutions to difficult problems.

On skills, Prospect endorsed the committee’s finding that “the inability of the civil service to develop, recruit, and retain key skills is a fundamental failure of today’s civil service, which successive governments and the leadership of the civil service have failed to address.

“The fact that so many with key skills just leave the service also underlines how counterproductive it is to maintain the existing restrictions on salaries and conditions for leading professionals in a modern civil service.”