Civil service understaffed as Article 50 triggered

29 Mar 2017

As the government triggers Article 50 to kickstart our withdrawal from the EU, it is clear the civil service is woefully understaffed and underprepared.

Government bodies are struggling to maintain existing services after almost seven years of spending cuts and key areas of the civil service will not be able to manage the demands of Brexit.

Our view was supported by a recent National Audit Office report that found departments “do not know what skills they have, whether these are in the right place, and what additional skills they need”.

For example Defra, whose work is heavily shaped by EU money and legislation but is among the worst hit in Whitehall by UK government cuts, will “need legal, economic and sector experts to deal with the implications of Brexit”, the NAO said.

“They will have to do this while using their remaining staff to achieve pre-existing priorities,” it added.

Since 2010, the civil service and its related bodies have axed 110,000 posts (21%) and arbitrary spending reduction plans kept in place by the current Tory government would lead to tens of thousands more in the coming years.

Our general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “As the government triggers Article 50 it is clear to everyone that the civil service is woefully understaffed and underprepared for Brexit.

“While we engage in the long, complex process of withdrawal from the EU, there will be no let-up in the demand for existing services. All cuts plans must be halted immediately to allow us to properly discuss the staffing and resources that are needed.”

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