Staff numbers and controlling costs


            As someone who has urged the use of natural wastage to control staff numbers and costs in government departments, I have just asked a series of questions to see how Ministers are getting on.

           One of the first to come through are the figures from the Department of Energy and Climate Change.  In May 2010 they employed 1036 people (full time equivalents).  Since May 53 people have left. They now employ  1154 (fte).

               That means they have employed an extra 118 staff, and replaced the 52 (fte) that have left, making a grand total of 170 extra hirings.

              I am pleased to report that at Business totals are down by 449, with 500 leaving over the period. At  DEFRA totals are down by 539, with leavers amounting to 678. (all fte).  The natural wastage rate is running at over 7% per annum at DEFRA and much higher at Business, if all the leavers were voluntary. It shows that there are substantial savings to be had from natural wastage.


  1. lifelogic
    March 2, 2011

    Natural wastage is a good way to get rid of good people and get left with the not so good. What is really needed is easy cheap hire and fire laws so they can get rid of the right ones so then could private industry with huge productivity increases, new jobs and growth all round.

    True in departments like “Energy and Climate Change”, they are doing little of any use anyway (beyond PR pushing duff technology and gross exaggerations of the largely quack Global Warming science). Thus one might argue that it does not really matter if they are left with the bad staff anyway – it might be better for the overall economy if they are bad staff.

    Unfortunately the essentially socialist, and Lord (Chris) Patton devotee, Cameron cannot see this. He thinks we should all by law have to employ 90 year old’s and should hardly ever be allowed to fire anyone.

    A little more small state wisdom and a bit of extra resultant growth and a positive pro-business message might still win him the next election if he woke up but time is short.

    I assume true to form Cameron will also support the EU Insurance Equality madness.

  2. Mick Anderson
    March 2, 2011

    Unfortunately it doesn’t suit the empire-building instincts of (most of) those running the Government departments to let the fiefdoms shrink. The only person making a name for himself in this respect is Mr Pickles.

    Mr Cameron and Mr Osborne obviously need to be much more specific in their instruction to those running departments as to how staff numbers need to be reduced, and in what quantity.

    It would help if they were geniunely “Small Statists” and reduced the number of areas that the Government intrudes into our lives. I’m sure there would have been a way to cancel the expensive up-coming census if they really wanted to. It migh have been scheduled by the previous incumbents, but not wanting to cancel the contracts isn’t a good enough excuse to continue. They’ve been happy to reduce the armed forces (that we do appear to need, especially at the moment) while barely scratching the surface elsewhere.

  3. alexmews
    March 2, 2011

    perhaps the tone of the post is meant to elicit such replies – but i’ll bite:

    as the DoE & CC does not produce energy nor regulate it (OFGEM?) what is the purpose of > 1000 FTEs. likely many more consultants and contractors for sure. one cannot even say this department is driving activity in plannign for new capacity – as that is in a pretty woeful state too.

    climate change bureacrats grow in line with the size of climate change taxation i suspect.

    1. Mark
      March 2, 2011

      I’m sure the DECC has plenty of dead wood and produces lots of hot air.

  4. Brian Tomkinson
    March 2, 2011

    Why is Huhne still in charge of a department that is increasing rather than reducing its staffing levels and a presumably accompanying increase in costs? He is probably not the only one; keep up the good work and name and shame them all.

    1. alan jutson
      March 2, 2011


      In answer to your question. Why are costs increasing.

      Huhne is a Liberal, they all like to spend money, other than their own.

      Some Local Authorities where Liberals are in control have the same problem, pet projects, which do nothing for anyone other than the ego of those who dream them up.

  5. Jose
    March 2, 2011

    It is in none of the ministers´or civil servant mandarins´interests to reduce the size of the state as the outcome will be reflected in their job prospects and salaries and pensions. It would appear that councils on the other hand who are doing all the bleating are actually doing something about reducing costs.

  6. lojolondon
    March 2, 2011

    John, it is a triple whammy – because :
    1. there is no global warming, so every penny spent is a penny wasted
    2. starves the areas that need funding
    3. worst of all, all this warming regulation makes the UK uncompetitive

    On a (budget) related note, Cameron announced last week that half the airforce is being cut, then said yesterday that we could go to war with Libya – specifically in the air – he must realise how ridiculous this is?

    1. norman
      March 2, 2011

      To be fair he’s since u-turned on that and now realises we can’t enforce a no-fly zone.

      I can’t decide if this makes him appear less ridiculous or more ridiculous.

  7. Paul H
    March 2, 2011

    Am I alone in seeing the irony of a Department of Energy and Climate Change producing nothing but hot air?

  8. zorro
    March 2, 2011

    It is good to know that the government appears to be looking at natural wastage, then (costly) voluntary redundancy, followed by some unnecessary compulsory redundancies to radically reduce staffing numbers on a fairly arbitrary scale in frivolous areas such as the Armed Forces and Border Control (25,000 down to 18,000 or less over four years).
    After all, it’s not as if we’re stretched militarily or looking to engage ourselves elsewhere to teach people the benefits of EU style democracy……Immigration is also fully under control, after all national statistics last week showed that settlement grants rose 25% last year to an all time high, and removal figures have dropped like a stone, 25% year on year, so no worries there then…..We have a nice, stable situation in the Middle East/North Africa with potentially hundreds of thousands, if not many more, of 18 – 30 year old migrants with an easy passage to the EU and then on to the UK. However, to assist in the management of these masses, the government has set a limit on migration so I’m sure that the huddled masses will all respect that and decide not to come to the UK in the face of our resolute, not for turning government……Indeed, so confident is the government in a ‘new IT system’ ™ that it can radically reduce the numbers of caseworkers before it has been tested, and, in any case, prospective immigrants will obey the government’s clarion call that ‘there will be a limit’. It is refreshing to know that talking about something can be just as effective as actually acting on something……After all, those caseworkers were only employed to clear up the mess (grant settlement left, right and centre to failed asylum seekers) from the previous failed computer system (2000) which promised to be wonderfully efficient and reduce staff. As we know, history does not repeat itself……
    But most of all, it is refreshing to see that the very important ‘Department of Energy and Climate Change’ has been able to increase staffing (almost 20% new hirings) in very important areas of work such as expending money on designing inefficient energy systems and implementing crucial EU diktats to help destroy our productivity and competitiveness and thus improve our economy and help us grow out of recession. Wonderful stuff……There are savings to be had from natural wastage but we shouldn’t save a penny to have to pay more pounds later.


    1. zorro
      March 2, 2011

      Of course, any savings should not include diversity or equality coordinators, five a day monitors, or LGBT advisors as these are essential to our productivity and necessary motors of economic growth and wealth to the nation…. Fortunately, the government recognises this and has gone ahead lock, stock and barrel with Ms Harman’s recent Equalities Act.


  9. oldtimer
    March 2, 2011

    One reason for the increase could be the fact that the PM thinks that climate change (by which I assume he means man made climate change) is the biggest problem he faces – as he said on AlJazeera last week. His solution? Throw more money at the problem with no expense spared. Defense of realm and getting the deficit down appear to be less important matters.

    Alternatively, or perhaps as well, extra staff have been hired to produce an answer that will, by hook or by crook, justifies all that planned spending on wind farms and solar farms (at the expense of consumers and businesses) despite the evidence to the contrary in Denmark, Germany and Spain.

    There is a third possiblility. Mr Huhne is a lousy manager.

    1. lifelogic
      March 2, 2011

      Yet another Oxford PPE man. What do they teach on that course? Keynesian economics, how to distort the electoral system with devolution and the EU (to subvert democracy and render voters powerless), the use of equality to expand the state, how to generate false scares such as the Millenium bug, AGW, bird/swine flu, how to create a nonsense energy policy with promotion of quack engineering, how to devalue a currency and how to create and justify an ever bigger parasitic state from which to feed until finally the golden goose is dead.

      I can only assume this must be it.

      Can we please have some sense and a few Cambridge Engineers instead ( but not Vince Cable please).

    2. norman
      March 2, 2011

      You’d think we could at least invest in the Navy. When sea levels start rising in the tens of metres in the coming years one would think we’d need a strong Navy to patrol the streets at night in fast e-boats.

  10. English Pensioner
    March 2, 2011

    I would have thought that at least 50% of the staff at the Department of Energy and Climate Change (the Climate Change half) could be made redundant immediately! And as for Energy, I’d appreciate some confirmation that they were trying to actually do something to ensure the continuity of our energy supplies in view of the world turmoil – are we any nearer nuclear power stations that a year ago?

    I agree with Lifelogic above, Natural wastage, except for retirement, invariably gets rid of those staff you least wish to loose as they move on to better jobs elsewhere. My daughter recently discovered this when she was put in charge of a small office of 14 people of which she considered only 4 to be competent, and whom would be capable of running the office by themselves without the rest. It is these four useful staff who have put in for voluntary redundancy, and being government employees, there is no way she can get rid of the others.

    And somewhat off topic; Now that the EU has dealt with sexism in the insurance industry, and this government has reduced ageism by not having a retiring age, will one of them soon be dealing with the issue of ageism in the Insurance Industry? I’d love to be able to get some holiday insurance for the same premium as they would charge a 35 year old!

    1. alan jutson
      March 2, 2011

      English Pensioner

      Good point about Holiday insurance, premiums seem to double after 65, and if you want to go away for more than 30 days you need to re-mortgage, so my friends tell me.

      Could also have problems with your own house insurance if away for more than 30 days at a time.

      Not quite there yet, but maybe the EU will sort it by the time I make it !!!!

      Also understand it is almost impossible at almost any cost, to hire a car after your 70 years old.

      Seems to me like discrimination is all round us.

  11. Mark
    March 2, 2011

    Do we know how many were employed in say 1987 at the Department of Energy, Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries and the DTI? The last will perhaps be slightly complicated by the apparent loss of its trade brief to be replaced by the higher education element of the Department of Education. I’d bet the answers would give a much greater insight into how much natural wastage could be tolerated.

    1. English Pensioner
      March 2, 2011

      I’ve been wondering about a similar thing; how many people were employed in the War Office, Air Ministry and Admiralty in say 1946 following the war. I suspect it is a small fraction of those currently in the MoD, although at the time of their merger it was claimed that there would be a significant reduction in staffing!

  12. Hugh
    March 2, 2011

    John, thank you.
    Could you add the names of the Minister and the Permanent Secretary e.g. (Chris Huhne/Moira Wallace) after the relevant department to remind us who is doing well/ or not as the case may be.
    This is a really worthwhile exercise and could usefully be updated quarterly across the board.

  13. Iain Gill
    March 2, 2011

    ask them how many folk in India working for an outsourcing organisation are doing a job previously done by a Brit working in the UK?

    ask them the total headcount of contractors, freelancers, consultants etc doing roles for their organisation?

    easy to drop permanent heads and employee others through other routes

  14. sm
    March 2, 2011

    So which departments faithfully carry out the cuts as requested from above. It sounds like the forces at the moment. Maybe its the discipline to take orders despite the ‘self destruct’ nature of them. Turkeys and Christmas.

    Also more analysis should be directed at the probable ‘top heavy’ nature of the departments. Chiefs v Indians.

  15. Steve Cox
    March 2, 2011

    I am in agreement with the other posters (so far), that the Energy/Climate Change ministry is one of the most pointless in government and should be reduced in size, so what is to be done about it? As a former employee of a North Sea oil major, I can remember when the DOE actually had a somewhat useful, if excessively bureaucratic, role. Nowadays it simply seems hellbent on increasing the number of pointless and hugely expensive windmills that litter our landscapes and seascapes. Surely that alone is enough reason to justify a major cull?

    Oh wait a minute, silly me, I forgot about the EU and its daft renewable energy targets that our even dafter politicians signed into law (sorry, John, I can’t recall which way you voted on that one). Here’s an idea – why don’t we follow the Netherlands and renounce our renewable energy commitments, get rid of all the pointless climate change employees, stop massively subsidising all those foreign companies that build and operate the windmills, and thereby reduce our electricity bills? Wouldn’t that be hugely popular, apart from with the usual loons in Hampstead and Islington? Please tell Mr. Cameron that here is a simple way to win votes and popularity, and even to reduce inflation, in spite of Mervyn King’s efforts to the contrary. Everyone wins in Britain, the only loser is Johnny Foreigner, so what’s wrong with that? Eh?

    (Simple answer – see the Coalition’s stance on overseas aid… they LOVE Johnny Foreigner! 🙁 )

    Reply: I did not vote for the climate change programme when all three parties voted for it in the last Parliament.

  16. Alex
    March 2, 2011

    I share the puzzlement over why Huhne is allowed to grow his AGW propanda department while important public services are being cut.

  17. REPay
    March 2, 2011

    DECC staff up by 154 – someone needs to get a gip of Sir Humphrey or Mr Spendlove! Doubtless this largesse will please the Guardianistas but to what end? Any sign of the public sector pensions cap as promised in the manifesto? Retired civil servants on 66% of final salary index linked plus six figure payoffs are a real cost! This is not 1963!

    Reply: We are waiting for Hutton on pensions – rumour has it he will recommend higher contributions and career average rather than final salary.

  18. Lindsay McDougall
    March 2, 2011

    Regarding the Department of Energy and Climate Change: are the extra people planning the next generation of power stations (good) or ticking EU boxes (bad)?

    Manpower reduction by natural wastage is cheap but it doesn’t create so many job opportunities for the young, does it?

  19. Mike Stallard
    March 2, 2011

    I really wish that the current government had had the sense to employ your talents.
    Why didn’t they?

    1. alan jutson
      March 2, 2011


      They only employ people of like mind to themselves. Its an easier life.

      1. lifelogic
        March 3, 2011

        They only want pro EU malleable zombies who can be bought with a good pension and perhaps a promise of later ennoblement.

  20. Jordan Ash
    March 2, 2011

    DECC appears to consist of a rump of ex-defra and DTI staff. It would be interesting to hear if any of the 5oo odd who’ve left defra have joined DECC and make up any of the extra 117 to have joined Lord Huhne’s dept this financial year.

  21. Denis Cooper
    March 2, 2011

    Obviously we could dispense with the services of all those in the “climate change” part and only benefit from doing so.

    But try getting members of our political class to accept that, especially as they would be going directly against EU policy as now enshrined in the treaties.

    Article 191 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union states:

    “Union policy on the environment shall contribute to pursuit of the following objectives … promoting measures at international level to deal with regional or worldwide environmental problems, and in particular combating climate change.”

    The last phrase was introduced by the Lisbon Treaty, which came into force on December 1st 2009.

  22. Martin
    March 2, 2011

    If costs are to be controlled scrap the surveillance state.

    Why is the government spending even more money on this?

    Who is worse for a surveillance state the UK or North Korea?

  23. BobE
    March 3, 2011

    They’ve only got four years to be in power. Then its back to oblivian. God know the damage they will do.

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