21/10/2004

Despite Brown's pledge to downsize, civil service numbers rise

Civil service numbers have risen by 9,000 over the past six months, in spite of the chancellor's pledge that there would be swingeing cuts in staff numbers in an effort to save cash.

According to today's statistics, the number of permanent civil servants stood at 523,580 in April. This was an increase of 8,920 or 1.7% on six months earlier. There was also an increase of 170 in the number of casual staff between October 2003 and April 2004.

At the chancellor's last spending review in July, Gordon Brown angered unions by committing the government to culling 104,000 civil service jobs.

The huge cuts announced by the chancellor includes 40,000 jobs axed in the last budget, and will also see 20,000 go in devolved governments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The latest increases in civil service numbers has made the government appear foolish in its pledge to cut jobs and save money, according to the Liberal Democrats.

Lib Dem shadow chancellor Vince Cable said: “The government is making itself look foolish by announcing civil service cuts on the one hand and then showing an increase in numbers on the other.

“Today’s figures clearly highlight the ridiculous ‘numbers game’ that both the government and the Conservatives are playing.

“It would be far better for the government to take a much more strategic view and make the tough choices necessary by deciding priorities and then deciding on the numbers of civil service needed to meet these priorities.”

In the complete year to April 2004, the number of permanent staff increased by 12,280 or 2.4%. There was an increase of 1,180 in the number of casual staff, so the overall level of staffing increased by 13,460 or 2.6%.

(gmcg/mb)

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