Figures show Government's previous 'efficiency' drives drove up staff and budgets

Labour's ability to force through savings in the public services was cast into doubt last night, after it emerged that a previous Whitehall "efficiency drive" led to more civil servants and bigger departmental budgets.

Gordon Brown last week attempted to convince voters he could reduce Britain's £800bn national debt with a package to save £12bn over four years. The package, unveiled two days before Alistair Darling's pre-Budget report, included plans to "name and shame" overpaid public sector workers and use crime maps and online school reports to cut overheads and halve the budget deficit.

But an investigation by The Independent on Sunday has established that, five years after the Government pledged to slash more than 100,000 Civil Service jobs following an efficiency review by Sir Peter Gershon, the workforce and spending on Whitehall departments increased.

Although ministers claim success in hitting Gershon-inspired targets, an analysis of 17 of the 21 departments shows the payroll has risen from 525,000 to almost 540,000 since 2004; budgets have soared from £143bn to £180bn; and staffing numbers conflict dramatically with government figures, which put the civil servant headcount at about 496,000.

Details tucked away in the latest annual reports and accounts reveal that seven departments admit increasing staff levels. But even those that maintain they have cut numbers have been accused of merely shifting staff to other departments or into a growing number of semi-autonomous quangos, which are still funded by taxpayers' money.

David Craig and Matthew Elliott, whose new book Fleeced traces some £3,000bn of public funds they believe have been mismanaged in the past decade, claim the Cabinet Office "cut" 958 jobs in three years by transferring hundreds of staff to berths elsewhere in government.

"When all these changes are included, the apparent reduction of 958 employees becomes an overall increase of 293," Mr Elliott said. "This might explain why taxes and public spending keep going up at the same time as the Government claims to be saving tens of billions a year."

Staffing at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office has risen from 6,119 in 2003-04 to more than 14,000 today, while its budget increased from £1.7bn to £2.68bn. Staff numbers at the Home Office have increased from almost 21,000 to more than 26,000, and the budget by nearly £1.5bn. Despite the extension of self-government from Belfast, the Northern Ireland office has also managed to increase its staff and spending.

The National Audit Office recently analysed £13bn of the £21.5bn savings the Government claims to have made under Gershon, and found that £10bn of them were "uncertain".

By 2012-13 the cost of servicing the national debt will have risen to £63.7bn. This means each taxpayer will pay more than £2,000 in tax just to pay for debt interest.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
Teeth should be brushed twice a day to prevent tooth decay
education
News
Bryan Cranston as Walter White, in the acclaimed series 'Breaking Bad'
news
Sport
footballChelsea 6 Maribor 0: Blues warm up for Premier League showdown with stroll in Champions League - but Mourinho is short of strikers
News
Those who were encouraged to walk in a happy manner remembered less negative words
science
Arts and Entertainment
Princess Olga in 'You Can't Get the Staff'
tvReview: The anachronistic aristocrats, it seemed, were just happy to have some attention
News
Renee Zellweger as Bridget Jones
i100
Life and Style
tech

Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift

News
There have been various incidents of social media users inadvertently flouting the law
news

Life and Style
Stack ‘em high?: quantity doesn’t always trump quality, as Friends of the Earth can testify
techThe proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
News
Bourgogne wine maker Laboure-Roi vice president Thibault Garin (L) offers the company's 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau wine to the guest in the wine spa at the Hakone Yunessun spa resort facilities in Hakone town, Kanagawa prefecture, some 100-kilometre west of Tokyo
i100
Sport
CSKA Moscow celebrate after equalising with a late penalty
footballCSKA Moscow 2 Manchester City 2: Premier League champions let two goal lead slip in Russia
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

IT Project Manager

Competitive: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Chelmsford a...

Business Intelligence Specialist - work from home

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

Business Intelligence Specialist - work from home

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

IT Manager

£40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

Day In a Page

Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London