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MPs hit out at Boris Johnson's plans to axe 91,000 civil service jobs

A CROSS-PARTY group of MPs hit out today at Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s “ill-considered proposals” to slash 91,000 Civil Service jobs. 

An early day motion, moved by the SNP’s Chris Stephens and backed by Labour’s John McDonnell and Barry Gardiner, blasted the “rushed announcement as a desperate attempt to deflect from the government’s own failure to address the cost-of-living crisis.”

Workers are also angry that the proposal was confirmed last week in “tabloid newspapers rather than a statement” to the Commons, the motion said.  

Mr Johnson has given ministers one month to devise ways to axe one in five Civil Service positions, claiming that the move was needed to free up funds to tackle the impact of soaring prices.

The Civil Service workforce has been expanded in recent years following Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic, but the motion criticised Downing Street’s “spurious claim” that the cull would represent a return to 2016 staffing levels, noting that there were “already serious understaffing issues” at that time. 

The TUC warned that the “shameful” plan would affect communities, while the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union – the biggest in the sector, representing more than 177,000 civil servants – warned that it would consider national strike action to resist the proposal.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka thanked MPs who were “standing with us in opposition to these unnecessary and vindictive cuts.”

He told the Morning Star: “Make no mistake, these cuts will have consequences, not just for our members but for every member of the public who relies on the services our hard-working members provide." 

The motion has been signed by 14 parliamentarians so far, including Liberal Democrat, Plaid Cymru and Democratic Unionist MPs plus the Greens’ Caroline Lucas and Welsh independent Jonathan Edwards.

FDA assistant general secretary Steven Littlewood said: “In 2016, the civil service was at its smallest size since the Second World War following a concerted effort by the coalition government to reduce headcount. We saw with Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic that there wasn’t any spare resource and so after years of cutting jobs, the government had to then U-turn to hire the civil servants it needed.”

“Following Brexit, the UK Civil Service now has significant additional responsibilities – around borders, customs, agricultural subsidies etc. and there are still backlogs relating to the pandemic which need to be cleared. Nobody would object to a more efficient civil service, but this slash and burn approach aimed at generating a headline is not the way to go about it.”

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