Autumn Statement: civil service must be helped to meet Brexit challenge

Autumn Statement: civil service must be helped to meet Brexit challenge

Philip Hammond must address the resourcing crisis in the civil service if the government is to deliver a successful exit from European Union says Prospect union ahead of the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement.


The call, on behalf of 30,000 members in the civil service, follows a number of warnings in the last few days about the ability of Whitehall to support the government in drawing up and implementing a Brexit plan with current staffing levels.

A leaked Deloitte memo estimated that as many as 30,000 extra civil servants would be needed to meet the extra workload. Meanwhile, the Institute for Government said that while it believed Whitehall had most of the technical skills required, it did not have the capacity to deliver Brexit on top of existing priorities given that staffing was at its lowest level in decades. Furthermore, the think-tank noted that Brexit was seen as an “existential challenge” to the work of some departments.

Garry Graham, Prospect deputy general secretary, said: “Even before Brexit, the civil service faced an enormous challenge in terms of the recruitment and retention of skilled staff.

“Our members have seen shrinking take-home pay since 2011, and the outlook is set to worsen with continued pay restraint through to 2020 combined with growing inflation resulting from weaker sterling. This is not the experience of similarly skilled colleagues in the private sector.

“Against this backdrop – and I can’t repeat it often enough – the civil service is at its smallest since the outbreak of the second world war.

“When you add Brexit to the mix, the situation is quite clearly unsustainable. At the very least the pay pilots must be extended so that we have pay flexibilities across the civil service to retain and recruit the staff we needed to deliver Brexit and the other government priorities.”

Additionally, Prospect would like to see:

* An unequivocal commitment to replace EU funding of vital UK science projects post Brexit

* Investment in R&D and infrastructure to boost productivity

*A Defence Industrial Strategy as part of an expected announcement on a broad industrial strategy

*Re-confirmation of the UK’s commitment to spend 2% of GDP on defence, given recent calls to backtrack in response to the rising cost of imports.

For further information contact:
Andrew Child
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