Treasury permanent secretary Sir Tom Scholar has told MPs he expects a 25% hike in staff numbers at the department to scale back down over the next three years.
Scholar admitted that responding to the demands of the coronavirus pandemic had seen a “very sharp increase” in headcount at the department at a Treasury Committee session yesterday afternoon.
His acknowledgement came in response to a question from committee member Julie Marson, who quoted figures from the Treasury’s 2021 annual report and accounts, which put the department’s current headcount at 1,992 – up from 1,599 the previous year.
Scholar said dealing with the pandemic had “hugely increased” the department’s workload because of the economic support schemes and other new workstreams that needed to be dealt with.
“We did take on a lot of staff quickly,” he said.
“We’ve now, like every department, got a spending settlement taking us through the next three years and the plan in that spending settlement is that the increase in staff will unwind over those three years.”
Scholar said that while he expected Treasury headcount to be back at “more or less” the same size it was before the pandemic, additional functions the department had taken on following Brexit – such as financial services legislation – meant staff numbers could be “slightly larger” than before.
Darlington campus recruitment ‘on target’
Scholar told MPs that the Treasury was on course to hit a recruitment target to find 100 staff for its new economic campus at Darlington by the end of the current financial year.
He said 76 of those staff had now been identified, but noted that only 23 were current Treasury officials looking to relocate to the northeast.
“We’ve invited all of our London staff to consider whether they’d like to relocate,” Scholar told MPs.
“Quite a few people are still thinking about it. It also depends on what opportunities will come up at the office there.”
The perm sec said the department’s senior management team had been keen to get a “good mixture of seniority of people already in the department” relocating to help establish the office.
“I’m really glad to say that we’ve been able to do that already,” he said.
“We’ve got two director generals now working from Darlington as well as another director and other members of the senior civil service.
“We’ve got some great people relocating and the local recruitment. The direct recruitment at Darlington is really encouraging too.”
The Treasury is targeting a headcount of 300 at Darlington by the end of the decade.