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Public Services: Reductions

Volume 721: debated on Thursday 27 October 2022

15. Whether the Government plans to make reductions to public services to meet its objective to reduce the number of civil servants by 91,000. (901894)

In recent years the civil service has delivered in the face of unprecedented challenges. This Government are focused on improving efficiency and reducing the cost of public service delivery. The Government are totally committed to delivering high-quality public services and want to do so as effectively and efficiently as possible.

I thank the Minister for his answer. However, such job losses risk even longer backlogs for services such as issuing passports and driving licences—systems that are already in chaos—and they will not even deliver savings to the taxpayer. A new study by economists employed in the Government Department shows that, in addition to the short-term bill for redundancy payments, these plans could drain £3 billion annually from the UK economy and result in the knock-on effect of the loss of 118,000 private sector jobs. With civil servants feeling increasingly overworked and underpaid, should not the Minister drop these reckless proposals?

I am sure the hon. Gentleman recognises that, given what is going on in the world at the moment and the pressures on household incomes, what every person in this country wants is high-quality public services but delivered as effectively and efficiently as possible. He is wrong to assume that just because we have x number of people we need to always keep x number of people. There are innovations we can do, which are common in the private sector, such as the use of digital networks and of AI to support strong delivery of public services. None of these should be ignored or forgotten about as a way of delivering high-quality public services on an efficient and effective basis.

In the summer, there was a number of stories about downgrading the fast-track process for recruiting civil servants. I have always believed we need the best and brightest in the civil service to deliver first-class services. Is that Government policy, or have they had any thoughts about this, because the system has served us very well over many years?

The Government are absolutely committed to ensuring that there is always a path into the civil service for people who are high quality; we need really good, high-quality civil servants. That is absolutely our priority. I spoke earlier about apprentices, and my hon. Friend raises an important point regarding fast track. I can assure him we will make certain there are routes into the civil service for the high-quality public servants we all need to deliver high-quality public services.