Prime minister Theresa May. Credit: PA
The Conservative Party’s just-published election manifesto has failed to recognise the pressures the civil service is operating under and will hamper the nation’s ability handle Brexit negotiations, one of the sector’s main unions has warned.
Prospect said the 88-page document, titled Forward Together, was devoid of any new thinking about the civil service and wider public sector in a “glaring omission” for a sector facing its biggest challenges in a generation against a backdrop of pay and retention difficulties.
The union, which has 28,000 professional, managerial, and specialist members working for the civil service, said that if the Conservative Party – currently enjoying a 17-point lead over Labour in the opinion polls – was to deliver on its repeated pledge of delivering “strong and stable government”, it would need a strong and stable civil service.
Prospect deputy general secretary Garry Graham said the only conclusion civil servants could draw from the omission was that the Conservatives were “offering more of the same – more pressure on jobs, greater pressure on staff and a further downgrade of expertise”.
“The incoming government will need the civil service to deliver on Brexit and its wider policy agenda,” he said.
“Yet staffing numbers have been slashed by 26% in recent years and the unprecedented squeeze on pay has led to increased recruitment and retention problems.
“Uncompetitive pay and long hours are now a hallmark of working in the civil service."
Politicians from all parties have expressed their concerns about the civil service’s capacity and capability to deliver the incoming government’s agenda alongside the tsunami of work resulting from Brexit, he highlighted.
“Failing to ensure that the civil service is able to recruit, retain and motivate the skilled professionals it needs is ill-founded and bordering on recklessness.”