IfG analysis finds the civil service is ageing – but not the Treasury

Written by Richard Johnstone on 13 April 2017 in News

Figures find the civil service has aged since 2010, but HM Treasury is one of five departments where the number of employees under the age of 30 has increased.

The number of civil servants aged 50 and above has increased by 8 percentage points to 40% since 2010, and half of the senior civil service is in that age bracket at seven Whitehall departments, according to an analysis by the Institute for Government.

In a crunch of Office for National Statistics figures from 2010 to 2016, the think tank found the proportion of staff over the age of 50 has risen most at the Department for Work and Pensions over this period (15 percentage points), followed by HM Revenue and Customs (10 points) and the Ministry of Defence (9 points). Given the size of these departments, this largely explains the ageing of the civil service as a whole.

Gavin Freeguard, head of data and transparency at the IfG, found that the median age of a civil servant in 2016 was 47, although this ranges from 49 at both the DWP and the MoD to just 32 at the Treasury.

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Although only 10% of civil servants were aged under 30, down from 14% in 2010, some departments had got younger since 2010. The Treasury increased its number of staff under 30 over the period, as did the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, the Department for Education, and the Department for Transport.

The Treasury also has the youngest senior civil service team of any department, with half of those in the top posts under the age of 40, followed by 44% at DCLG, 40% at DCMS and 38% at the Cabinet Office.

Across Whitehall, however, only 15% of the whole SCS is under the age of 40, with nearly half (49%) aged 50 or over. Half of the SCS is aged 50 or over at DWP, HMRC, MoD, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the Ministry of Justice, the Department for International Development and the Department of Health.

Freeguard highlighted that departments face different challenges based on their age profiles. “Older departments may need to bring in new skills and younger ones mitigate the effect of progression and turnover – but all have to face the big challenges of their age,” he said.

About the author

Richard Johnstone is CSW's deputy editor and tweets as @RichRJohnstone

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