Around 6,000 civil service jobs in Wales could be axed under UK Government plans
UK Government plans to axe 91,000 civil servants to save money could see 6,000 people lose their jobs in Wales. First Minister Mark Drakeford said that he fears there will be a disproportionate number of job cuts here.
In response to questions from Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price in plenary Mr Drakeford said that previous comments that the DVLA or Passport Office, both with strong bases in Wales, could face privatisation could mean Wales is further negatively affected. You can read about that here.
Mr Drakeford was asked whether the Welsh Government had been informed about the plan. He said: “The last time I had a discussion with any UK minister about civil service jobs it was to hear that minister trumpet the intentions of the UK Government to disperse civil service jobs around the country and to bring more employment to Wales and other places outside London. What a different story this turns out to be in reality. 80% of civil service jobs in Wales are jobs that lie outside the Welsh Government and Adam Price is absolutely right – if we were to take even a proportionate count of the Prime Minister’s 91,000 we’d have 6,000 fewer jobs here in Wales.
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“The fear is we will take a disproportionately higher number of job cuts here in Wales because faced with difficulties of their own making the UK Conservative Government reaches immediately, in a kneejerk way, for the sort of solutions they’ve tried elsewhere and failed and threatens some of those agencies full of very hardworking people who did so much during the pandemic to continue to provide a public service and threatens them with privatisation. You can be sure that we will be communicating directly to ministers that if they go ahead with that scheme, and I see many Tory MPs saying that they don’t believe this will ever happen, if they decide Wales is to be the testbed for it then they will find a strong opponent here in the Welsh Government and certainly if they will think we will take a disproportionate share of jobs how much that will fly in the face of any claims this government makes about levelling up parts of the country outside the southeast of England.”
There has been talk of a civil service strike after the plans were announced. Trade industry website Civil Service World said industrial action will be on the table at PCS’ national conference next week while its general secretary Mark Serwotka released a statement pledging to “fight for every job in the civil service”.
“Our members, the heroes praised by the government for risking their lives keeping the country running during the pandemic, are now being told their jobs are at risk,” he said. “Making cuts will only make things worse – make waiting lists longer for those seeking passports and driving licences, make telephone queues longer for those with tax inquiries.”
A UK Government spokeswoman said: “We are incredibly grateful to the civil service for the outstanding job they do in delivering for the public but when people across the country are facing huge living costs, the public rightly expect their government to lead by example and to run as efficiently as possible. That’s why the PM has tasked the Cabinet to report back with a plan for returning the civil service to its 2016 levels over the next three years.
“As a responsible public sector employer it’s important that the government looks inwards to maximise efficiency and deliver a workforce which is leaner and better equipped to deliver on the issues that really matter to people.”