24 May 2022

Defra Recruitment Freeze announcement

Following the announcement of of 91,000 job cuts in the civil service over the next three years, Defra has announced it is  imposing a recruitment freeze for 3 months in Defra, RPA, APHA, VMD, CEFAS as well as potentially in FC and OFWAT. 

The announcement last week was out of the blue for everyone in the civil service and shows a complete lack of regard for our members. 

The reasons given for the cuts were flimsy and it  appears to be another example of this prime minister and his ministers using our members to distract from their shortcomings.  To announce this in the press was low, and certain publications will believe anything negative fed to them about the civil service. 

The government has the misguided belief that technology can replace people.  This is technology which doesn’t exist yet, let alone has been proven to work.  The announcement had nothing to do with facts and reason but was completely ideological and made by desperate politicians to cover their faults.

The announcement has understandably caused stress, upset and ill feeling. Our members deserve to be treated better than this, and they are not a punching bag to be used when things aren’t going smoothly for politicians. 

Right now our members in the Efra group are delivering for this country to move towards net zero carbon.  They are delivering the outcomes of Brexit, which have been negotiated by our current government, and no matter what changes happen they are continuing to deliver.  Our members continue to adapt to whatever they are being asked to do. 

In return they get maligned in the right-wing press; they get a stingy pay remit which will not deliver a cost of living pay rise during a cost of living pay rise; they get told that one in five of them could lose their job; and they get treated by dirt by the people who they deliver for.

With this recruitment freeze we see a risk to what we can deliver in the short and long term.  First of all we know that we still need more staff, more expertise to do the work we have now.  We also need to develop and replace experience and skills that we will lose as people leave the Civil Service as people retire or move on.  By freezing recruitment now we will lose what it will then take years to replace, if we can ever replace it.

There is no plan for these cuts – it is an arbitrary figure that shows a complete lack of understanding of the work done by the civil service.  This recruitment freeze is being imposed by Cabinet Office without a real understanding of the impact it will have.

We will continue to talk to Defra about the impact of this recruitment freeze and the announcement of job cuts. We will protect our members and their jobs.