Civil service remains at smallest size on record

Staff numbers at lowest level since 1999, but unchanged for last nine months

By Richard Johnstone

15 Mar 2017

The number of people employed in the civil service remains at the lowest level on record but the pace of the decline in staff levels has slowed, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics.

In its latest quarterly employment update, the ONS reported that the number of civil servants stood at 416,000 in the last three months of 2016, a level unchanged since the second quarter of the year.

Since a peak of 566,000, set in the three months to June 2005, the number of civil servants has generally been falling, the statistics body stated. The largest decline took place from March 2011 to March 2013, when civil service numbers fell by 65,000. Although the rate of decrease has now slowed, the ONS said the civil service remains at its smallest since the start of comparable data in 1999.

Overall public sector employment in the last quarter of 2016 stood at 5.436 million, down 1,000 from the previous three months.

Although civil service employment is at record low levels, employment across the whole of central government was up 27,000 in the three months. It now stands at 2.975 million, the highest level since 1999. This is due to staff working for academy schools being categorised by the ONS as central government employees, rather than local government.

Employment levels in the NHS also continued to rise, reaching 1.6 million, the highest level since comparable records began in 1999.

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