Auditors expose civil service understaffing

24 Mar 2017

The civil service is understaffed and underprepared for Brexit, the government's public spending watchdog warns today.

The National Audit Office says, seven years on from the first round of austerity cuts, government departments “do not know what skills they have, whether these are in the right place, and what additional skills they need”.

Arbitrary targets for spending reductions imposed first by the coalition government and kept in place by the Tories led to a damaging “cut first, plan later” approach, we have said in response.

The NAO report, ‘Capability in the civil service’, notes that although the civil service has shrunk by 26% since 2006, “most of the public services that were delivered before the cost reductions continue to be delivered”.

Departments graded themselves just 2.1 out of 5 for their current capability in workforce planning, the NAO finds.

This follows another NAO report this week into the government’s road programme that found there was a 19% staff shortfall in procurement and commercial specialists, which meant consultants were being hired at three times the cost of civil servants.

Our general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “The cut first, plan later approach demanded by austerity has damaged services and left the civil service unable to cope with current workloads, let alone the major upheaval caused by the vote to leave the EU.

“While the civil service is trying to deal with Brexit, there is no let-up in the demand and need for quality public services in our communities, which is why we have said all job cuts plans must be halted immediately.”

Download the full NAO report

 

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