Treasury staff protest at promotion squeeze

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Indy Politics
Staff at the Treasury have threatened to walk out over management plans that would limit promotion prospects for economists in the department who have not held administrative jobs.

Their union, the First Division Association, has complained about the new promotion rules to senior Treasury management, headed by the Permanent Secretary, Sir Terry Burns.

The rules would require candidates for promotion to Grade 7 and above - anybody in their late twenties and older - to have held a wide range of jobs within the department. Senior management on promotion boards have interpreted this to mean that anyone who had held only economics jobs and had no administrative experience was unsuitable. No economists were promoted, even though some jobs remained unfilled. Some candidates threatened to resign.

The 150 or so economists in the department have not been required to diversify in this way before. Many were furious over having their career goal posts moved. They perceive many of the administrators in the department to have little knowledge of economics. One said: "It is scandalous how little some people in the Treasury know about economics."

Nor did it help that the department's senior managers are all macro economists. Sir Terry Burns joined the Treasury as chief economic adviser from the London Business School before his promotion to permanent secretary.

The new requirement would also take the Treasury in the opposite direction to the Bank of England, where a new emphasis on the importance of economic expertise has sidelined many generalist officials.

The proposals are only the latest in a series of changes in Whitehall's most prestigious department which have thoroughly demoralised many of its staff. Two years ago a quarter of all senior posts were axed as part of the department's "fundamental expenditure review".

Although this actually boosted the careers of younger officials by giving them more responsibility, it limited promotion opportunities.

Up to 50 further job cuts could be in prospect if the Treasury forecast is contracted out to the private sector. The management consultants KPMG are due to report later this month on whether the move should go ahead.

The department is also due to move out of its prominent offices on the corner of Parliament Square to an unattractive office block across the Thames in Vauxhall, much further from the House of Commons.

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