DWP, HMRC and Home Office hires cause rise in civil service headcount

Rise in civil service employment over first three months of 2016 driven by growth in large departments – but organisation still smaller than this time last year

New figures show the Department for Work and Pensions took on 560 new staff last quarter. Credit: John Stillwell/PA 

By Suzannah Brecknell

15 Jun 2016

The number of people employed in the civil service grew by 0.2% from December 2015 to March 2016, thanks mainly to a rise in headcount at the Department for Work and Pensions, HM Revenue and Customs, and Home Office

In March 2016, total civil service headcount was 424,000. Despite the slight growth in 2016, this was still 3.4% lower than in March 2015.

Almost all of  the growth in civil service headcount was driven by a rise in the number of permanent staff at the DWP, HMRC and Home Office.

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Headcount at these departments grew by 560, 450 and 110 people respectively in the first three months of 2016. 

In each case this represents a rise of less than 1% for the department, but has a significant impact on overall civil service headcount since they are among the largest civil service employers.

The Home Office also saw a rise in temporary staff – in March 2016 it employed 1,340 temporary or casual staff, a rise of 110, or 0.1%, since December 2015.

The environment department saw the greatest fall in headcount, losing 260 staff, or 3% of its  total headcount, over the first three months of  2016.

Outside of the civil service, there has been a rise in the number of people working for public corporations such as the Intellectual Property Office, and overall central government employment continues to grow. 

In March 2016 2.9m people were employed by central government, a 0.6% increase since December 2015, and a 1.7% increase since March 2015.

The growth in central government employment was driven by rising numbers of staff in the NHS, and the growing number of schools becoming academies. The NHS employed 1.6m people in March 2016, a rise of 0.6% on the previous quarter and 2% on the previous year.

The growth in academies is also contributing to a fall in local government employment. When a local authority maintained school becomes an academy, its staff change from local government to central government employees.

Total public sector employment was 5.35m in March 2016, a fall of 21,000 (0.4%) since March 2015.

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