Number of Whitehall staff 'up by 25,000': New policies have led to growth, report says

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The Independent Online
THE NUMBER of civil servants dealing directly with the impact of the recession or the fight against crime has risen by more than 25,000 in the last three years, according to a new breakdown of staffing in Whitehall.

The figure is contained in an internal analysis produced for the First Division Association, the union for top civil servants, which argues that growth in civil service staff numbers is attributable to either new government policies or recession-driven programmes.

The statistics call into question recent claims that civil service staffing levels are slipping out of control merely because of an unchecked growth in bureaucracy.

The FDA's report acknowledges that there have been increases since 1990 following a reduction of about 70,00 after Margaret Thatcher came to power in 1979.

But it says a total net increase of 7,500 in the number of civil servants since 1990 is in large part due to the rise in the Employment Service (10,600); the Department of Social Security (3,900); the Home Office and Prison Service (8,800); Scottish Prisons (700); and the Crown Prosecution Service (1,600). In several other departments staffing levels are falling.

Disclosure of the figures will add a new dimension to the argument developing in Whitehall over both civil service staff numbers and accountability.

It comes on the eve of today's report by the Government Efficiency Unit on recruitment to top civil service jobs. The report will argue that more top jobs should be filled in open competition to admit candidates with commercial and other experience outside Whitehall.

Elizabeth Symons, the First Division Association's general secretary, said yesterday that the figures showed the Government had failed to demonstrate that growth in civil service numbers were the result of 'their own policies and not because of some spontaneous increase in bureaucracy'.

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