Liz Truss will remove Boris Johnson’s three year plan to eliminate 91,000 civil service jobs.
This favoured reducing headcount through long term churn.
Johnson announced plans in May to reduce the civil service workforce by one fifth to pre-Brexit referendum levels in 2016.
He described the service as “swollen” in recent years as a result of Brexit and the Covid pandemic.
Truss’ administration is still committed to returning to the 2016 headcount, but not to the 2025 target.
Instead, it will take a more gradual approach to reduce the size of the civil service in order to avoid redundancies that could cost up to £7 billion.
However, the move may not represent a radical shift in strategy, as the government has previously suggested that churn would spearhead the reduction.
Following the announcement of the 91,000 cuts, then-government efficiency minister Jacob Rees-Mogg stated that the simplest way to reduce numbers would be to implement a hiring “freeze,” as tens of thousands of civil servants leave their positions each year, including 44,000 last year.
However, new Cabinet Office minister Nadhim Zahawi has warned colleagues that, while eliminating 91,000 jobs could save the government £3.5 billion per year.
The large scale layoffs required to meet the three-year target would cost around £6bn-£7bn up front.
Zahawi, who oversees civil service reform, has concluded that the Johnson target is a “broad instrument” that should be reconsidered.
“Returning to 2016 levels remains the overall goal, but it will now be accomplished on a different timetable.” That target is no longer fixed.”
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Instead of attempting to return to the 2016 headcount in three years, Truss’ administration will use a “hybrid model” of efficiency savings and job cuts to reduce department spending, according to the newspaper.
Departments were instructed last week to find new “efficiencies” and outline how they will contribute to the government’s flagship agenda of driving growth.
Meanwhile, the Fast Stream, which was paused as part of plans to reduce the civil service, may be reinstated soon.