Civil service lacks resources to handle Article 50 negotiations, warns Prospect

Civil service lacks resources to handle Article 50 negotiations, warns Prospect

Less than a quarter of the skilled workers who will be involved in negotiating and implementing the UK’s exit from the European Union believe that their organisation has the necessary skills to deal with Brexit, according to the findings of a new survey.

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Half of the respondents to a Prospect union survey of civil servants, scientists and engineers, specialists in heritage and defence and professionals in aviation and telecoms said Brexit had impacted negatively on their organisation’s work.

Prospect’s survey also found that:

  • 68% of respondents were not satisfied with government’s preparations for life outside the EU
  • 40% of respondents felt less secure in their jobs

The union’s deputy general secretary Garry Graham said: “The UK could lose out in negotiations to leave the European Union because of a lack of resources and expertise in Whitehall and beyond.
“This is not just about headline decisions over access to the single market, but a host of detailed policy areas like environmental regulation and nature protections.
The Institute for Government said this week that the Government will need 10 to 15 bills alongside the Great Repeal Bill and formal negotiations to deal with Brexit – most of which relies on expertise of officials and agencies to make a success.
Thomson Reuters estimate that that more than 50,000 EU laws introduced since 1990 will have to be transposed in British statutes.
“Our fear is that our members in public service will be so tied up in redrafting legislation they will have less time to do their jobs – from ensuring ships are safe to go to sea, protecting our rivers, testing our lorries and buses or registering our patents.
“The government is heading into the two-year exit period after Article 50 is triggered without giving civil servants the tools they need to handle the negotiations.
“With many of our members already facing increasing workloads, we fear that fewer staff and less money could hamper UK efforts.”

Does your organisation have the necessary staff and skills for Brexit work?

Yes                       23%                     271   Respondents                 

No                        18%                     212                     

Don’t know           58%                     676                     

Has the Brexit decision impacted negatively on your organisation’s work?

Yes, to a serious extent                  5%                       125   Respondents                 

Yes, to some extent                        45%                     1,146                  

No, not at all                                    50%                     1,282

Are you satisfied with government preparations for life outside the EU?

Yes                       17%                     473   Respondents                    

No                        68%                     1,858                  

Don’t know           15%                     418                     

How do you feel your job security has changed since the referendum?

More secure         4%                       113  Respondents                  

Less Secure         40%                     1,043                 

Source: Prospect union survey, February 2017.

The 2,758 respondents work in: agriculture, environment, aviation, civil service, defence, education, energy, heritage, nuclear, science and technology, telecoms and media.