The civil service workforce shrank by 8,000 posts in the second quarter of 2015, according to the latest figures, with many of the reductions coming from privatisations and the transfer of staff to new government-owned companies.
Figures published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) on Wednesday showed that the total civil service workforce stood at approximately 431,000, a 1.8% reduction on the previous quarter and a 2.7% fall on this time last year. The quarterly fall in staff numbers was the biggest since the end of 2011.
The creation of Highways England – the new government-owned company (GovCo) replacing the Highways Agency – accounted for 3,750 transfers to the wider public sector, while 1,230 civil servants were also reclassified when Ordnance Survey become a GovCo.
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The privatisation of part of the Defence Support Group in April saw 2,000 staff move out of the civil service to become employees of defence contractor Babcock, while 1,100 employees at the National Offender Management Service also moved to private posts. There was an overall transfer of 3,700 civil servants to the private sector over the quarter, the ONS said.
The Department for Work and Pensions shed a total of 840 posts over the period, the ONS said, while HMRC increased its workforce by more than 1,500.
At its biggest in 2005, the civil service employed 571,000 staff – meaning the workforce is now almost 25% smaller than it was a decade ago.