Belfast Telegraph

Monday 22 September 2014

Civil servants face compulsory axe

Sir Gus O'Donnell has warned of compulsory redundances within the civil service

Compulsory redundancies will be imposed in the civil service as the coalition slashes budgets, the UK's top mandarin has admitted.

Sir Gus O'Donnell said forcing staff to leave would be "part of the answer in some departments" with tens of thousands of jobs due to be scrapped.

Whitehall is estimated to be facing the loss of 80,000 posts over the next two years as a result of last week's Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR), with the Ministry of Defence and HM Revenue & Customs among the hardest hit.

But giving evidence to the Commons Public Administration Committee, the Cabinet Secretary indicated he wanted to remove even more employees than was strictly necessary.

Asked if he was worried the civil service may lose the "wrong people", he replied: "Absolutely. We will not do this just through natural wastage.

"We will proactively manage this process so that we use our redundancy schemes. It may be at times we use our redundancy schemes to take out rather more, and then come in with people who have the skills that we need for the future."

Sir Gus stressed that natural wastage, where people leave for other jobs or retire, would play a large part in cutting the headcount.

Different departments would bring forward "concrete" plans for making reductions based on their own circumstances, he said.

But the mandarin went on: "We certainly cannot rule out the fact that we may have to have compulsory redundancies. That will be a part of the answer in some departments. But if you take a small department with a very high (staff) turnover rate, it may be that there are not compulsory redundancies there."

Sir Gus said the overall costs of redundancy packages to the taxpayer would depend on legislative changes, which were currently being negotiated with unions.

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