Civil Service 'faces exodus of mandarins'

Whitehall union chief says Government should stop criticising and increase pay

Pension cuts, job losses and public criticism from ministers will trigger an exodus of civil servants unless the Government agrees to more competitive pay deals, the new head of the union representing senior Whitehall mandarins has warned.

Treasury economists, tax inspectors and lawyers will be enticed by better pay and conditions to the private sector, triggering a "crisis" and a bigger bill for taxpayers, according to David Penman, who takes over as general secretary of the FDA this summer.

In an interview with The Independent on Sunday, Mr Penman also condemned David Cameron's attack on Whitehall staff as "enemies of enterprise" and accused some ministers of conducting "government by private email", deliberating undermining the role of civil servants. The FDA has 19,000 members, including permanent secretaries, diplomats, tax specialists, schools inspectors and health service managers.

Last month the FDA voted to accept the Government's pension reforms, which demanded increased contributions from workers. It followed three years of pay freezes for the most senior staff, and increased workloads as colleagues are made redundant. Mr Penman said: "At some point you get to a situation where our members are saying 'enough's enough'. And those who have got the choice will start to go. If you don't start thinking about that now, you'll end up coming to a crisis point."

Staff turnover rates at the Treasury hit 28 per cent last year, up from 22 per cent in 2010. Late last year staff were reportedly emailed asking if they had any friends who wanted to work there, with officials remarking that staff turnover is now "higher than McDonald's". A Cabinet Office spokesman insisted that resignation rates across the senior Civil Service are low at just under three per cent.

But Mr Penman said the Treasury is "probably the area where people are most mobile and most competitive and interesting to the private sector". He added: "If you have got that in a recession, what are we going to face when we start coming out of recession?"

He conceded that it was a difficult case to make, even to propose pay rises at a time when the economy is still struggling, but insisted that you have pay if you want the best people in top-level jobs running the country. "If you are attacked in the street, who do you want prosecuting the case on your behalf? Do you want one of the best lawyers the Government can supply, or one of the cheapest?"

Tensions have risen between civil servants and ministers in recent months, culminating in the proposal from the departing Tory policy guru Steve Hilton that Whitehall jobs be cut by more than half and policy-making outsourced to think tanks. Mr Cameron also caused offence in a speech last year when he attacked civil servants as "enemies of enterprise".

Mr Penman warned that such damning public criticism of staff would not be tolerated in any other walk of life. "You would never expect the chief executive of any major company to talk about their staff like that. The Prime Minister shouldn't... What do you think the impact would be on morale and productivity?"

He also criticised the way Jonathan Stephens, the permanent secretary at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, was left in the dark about the contact between ministers and advisers with News Crop during its bid for BSkyB. "There's a degree to which they operate government by private email accounts. I think there was a degree to which ministers and some of their conduct exposed and undermined the role of the permanent secretary in the Civil Service."

Suggested Topics
Sport
The sun rises over St Andrews golf course, but will it be a new dawn for the Royal and Ancient Golf Club?
sportAnd it's Yes to women (at the R&A)
Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
tvSeries celebrates 20th anniversary
Sport
Yaya Touré (left) and Bayern Munich’s Spanish defender Juan Bernat
footballToure's lack of defensive work is big problem for City
Voices
voicesApple continually kill off smaller app developers, and that's no good for anyone
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't
tv

Liam Neeson's Downton dreams

Sport
Wembley Stadium
footballNews follows deal with Germany
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
Sport
A 'Sir Alex Feguson' tattoo
football

Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear
tv

Thriller is set in the secret world of British espionage

Life and Style
life

News
ScienceGallery: Otherwise known as 'the best damn photos of space you'll see till 2015'
Life and Style
fashion

Bomber jacket worn by Mary Berry sells out within an hour

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Volunteer your expertise as Trustee for The Society of Experimental Biology

Unpaid Voluntary Position : Reach Volunteering: Promising volunteer Trustee op...

Email Designer

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Psychology Teacher

£110 - £130 per hour: Randstad Education Reading: Psychology Teacher needed fo...

Food Technology Teacher

£85 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: Randstad Education are curren...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week