According to the UK’s top civil servant, the government wants to cut up to 91,000 civil service jobs to save money.
Cabinet Secretary Simon Case stated in a letter to civil servants obtained by the BBC that the goal is to return to 2016 staffing levels within three years.
Downing Street stated that a recruitment freeze or compulsory redundancies were not ruled out as part of the planned cuts.
A civil service union called the plan “ill-conceived” and said strike action was “very much on the table.”
Mr Case acknowledged in his letter to civil servants on Thursday night that the job cuts would be “challenging” and that civil service staffing had grown “substantially” since 2016, owing in part to the pandemic.
“We must consider how we can streamline our workforce and equip ourselves with the skills we need to be an even more effective, lean and innovative service that continues to deliver for the people we serve,” he wrote.
The cabinet secretary continued, “this matters all the more at a time when the government is focused on controlling expenditure and delivering the best possible value for taxpayers in difficult circumstances.”
On Friday, the prime minister’s spokesman stated that it was up to government departments to “come forward with their plans” to reduce staff numbers, but he refused to speculate on any specific measures.
“It’s critical for the civil service to be as efficient as possible and avoid duplication,” they added, adding that changes in technology may allow departments to work differently.
“It’s understandable that the public would expect the government to ensure that taxpayer dollars are spent as efficiently as possible.”