The rise of the civil service

In the three years to March 2023 there was an increase of 63,000 civil servants, or 64,000 full time equivalents. Over the 3 years 2020 to 2023 there was a substantial fall in public sector productivity. There are now more than 4000 senior civil servants in Director level and above jobs.

Whilst it is understandable that the NHS and the civil service needed extra temporary help to deal with the special needs and extra government direction which covid controls and lockdowns brought, it is surprising that extra recruitment has continued well after lockdown was lifted.

At the same time there has been expansion in numbers at various quangos and so called independent bodies. Far from slimming the centre as more is done outside core government, the advent of more and more powerful independent government bodies seems to have increased the need for staff. Maybe the need or wish for cooperation, coordination and communications between the external body and the government department has required more people to talk to each other.

It is time for Ministers to set out their plans to get productivity back up to 2019 levels. It is time for them to ask civil service senior managers and quango chiefs how come productivity has slumped? What action is being taken to put it right?

Poor productivity can come with bad service. Get things right first time and productivity and quality rise.Do things  promptly and spare yourself the need to respond to enquiries and complaints about delays. Have easy and friendly systems and requirements and have fewer complaints or need to help people access your services.


  1. formula57
    November 20, 2023

    Can we be confident that the productivity measures properly indicate the underlying truth?

    It will be instructive to see the effect should Vivek Ramaswamy become U.S. president and implement his “day one” plan to reduce federal employee numbers by half. He claims “That downsizes government by half. Absolutely *nothing* will break as a result”!

    We also have the exciting prospect of new Argentinian president Milei now closing the central bank, presumably only after his other plan to use the U.S. dollar in replacement of the peso.

    1. Hope
      November 20, 2023

      Working from home requires more people less work is done too many loopholes to sack them. Electricians, plumbers, brickies, parks groundsmen cannot work from home. Practice needs to stop and only be an exception for those with minor ailments like sprained ankle etc.

      Sitting MPs were allowed in jungle like Handcock and Dorries what example does that set. Same as second jobs.

    2. Lifelogic
      November 20, 2023

      Indeed, it could easily be more that halved as so many in government do net harm or just create pointless work for others it would improve especially if you fire the right ones. Why do we have Osborne’s expensive and dire OBR for example?

      What is the treasury for – surely that is their job?

      1. Hope
        November 21, 2023

        Same for ONS. Treasury should have statisticians. No need for climate committee, scientific advisers can do the job not those with vested interests.

        Govt did not provide cost benefit analysis for lockdown, climate change activity etc. May allowed to introduce climate rot without any scrutiny!!

      2. Hope
        November 21, 2023

        Maude was going to sort out civil service….. then years of nothing. More people because they want to work from home or like Cambridge council only work 4 days a week for 5 days pay!

    3. Peter
      November 20, 2023

      I await the discovery of proper absenteeism on an Italian scale. It should be easier now with ‘working from home’ especially in unnecessary roles where absence would make no noticeable difference.

    4. Renton
      November 20, 2023

      It’s fine mate, I hope you get what you want. Slash the public sector! And I hope you won’t be complaining when your kids can only go to school three days a week, when your bins don’t get emptied any more, when you’ll be waiting three years for your hip replacement, when you get mugged and ring 999 and no one answers. Freedom from the state, hurrah

      1. Mickey Taking
        November 21, 2023

        Schooling is a joke anyway with 10% of kids refuse to turn up for the waste of time. Bins emptied? Once a week going to fortnightly – contents dropped on the pavements/road – bins hurled down in contempt. Three years for a hip replacement? Its 2 years for everything – Physiotherapy wait 2 to 3 months when the problem might be gone by then.
        999 for pro-shoplifters gets no attention…..welcome to your world of public service only getting worse.

  2. Mark B
    November 20, 2023

    Good morning.

    Sir John

    You are looking at a body that has no competition and a political party that knows it has shot itself in the foot by allowing the current Little Usurper into Number 10. For all of, Liz Truss MP faults, and there were many, she was by the thinnest of margins the best of a really bad bunch. And yes, I am daming her with faint praise. Her economic policies were just about right but her choice of Chancellor was abysmal and her overthrow will be looked back on as one of the greatest acts of self harm since ‘The Greatest Suicide Manifesto’ of the 80’s by the Labour Party.

    Your party is in terminal decline. Time my friend to look after ‘Number 1’.

    1. Hope
      November 20, 2023

      Mark B,
      I think Johnson’s was worse. He had an open goal with a 85 seat majority allowing him to do anything. He knew remainers would seize on anything against him. He should have culled them from the party not just get them to sign up to govt. aims- totally worthless. Now look who is back in cabinet, and one by one prominent leavers got rid of.

    2. Hope
      November 20, 2023

      Extended family member works from home every day for the council. His work fits around his family commitments!! They have no idea how long he works. A disease among public sector.

    3. Ian B
      November 20, 2023

      @Mark B +1

    4. Lifelogic
      November 20, 2023

      The more I think about the appointment of Lord David Cameron the more insane it seems. Is Sunak actually trying to bury the party. Cameron is disliked by remainers for calling the referendum and by leavers for ratting on his Cast Iron promise, failing to run a fair referendum by using government funded lies and propaganda, failing to prepare for (or deliver) the result as he had promised then abandoning ship like a pathetic child. Also for failing to be the low tax a heart Conservative he claimed and ratting on his £1m IHT threshold promise. Also for presiding over appalling foreign policies especially China, Libya, Syria and then the Greensill Scandal to boot.

      Tax cuts for a dynamic & thriving economy says Jeremy Hunt. Too late now mate, for tax cuts you need to stop pissing money down the drain as your partly have for 13+ year and increasing taxes to the highest level for 70+ years combined with dire and declining public service too.

      1. Lifelogic
        November 20, 2023

        Heseltine (now 90 it seems but looking good) says the digging up of Cameron – is the best piece of political news he has had for many years (since he buried MrsThatcher as PM and gave us John ERM Major I assume).

        Surely this proves my point. Sunak is totally out of touch with voters.

        1. Ed M
          November 21, 2023

          Heseltine is the only Tory MP in decades – or very, very few – who have proper business experience. I disagree with him over Brexit (I strongly support Sovereignty) but certainly Brexit as Farage says has been a failure – surprise-surprise – and that’s cause we never had a: 1) A propet Leader to implement it 2) No proper Plan 3) Not Wealthy enough as a nation to afford it. So awful Timing (and timing is key whether in business, war or politics).
          So down-to-earth British Common sense lost out to IDEOLOGY.

      2. Hope
        November 21, 2023

        You forget he claimed to reduce immigration to tens of thousands while side kick Osborne claimed no one serious in private!! Yesterday he and Plebgate banking on about food security after giving away our territorial fishing waters and pay farmers not to grow …! Idiot of the highest order springs to mind. How does Importing food to UK, and it’s increasing population through mass immigration, help husky hugging Dave or the country exactly?

        Cameron was going to balance structural deficit by 2015 and start paying down debt!! Sunak telling us his priority is to reduce…debt!!

    5. Margaret
      November 20, 2023

      I have worked in the NHS since 1968 and the competition is rife.The competition stops effective productivity and worst of all, outsiders bring it down to a stop, come up with a private solution which makes chaos flourish as they don’t understand much at all.

      1. Mickey Taking
        November 21, 2023

        so how does competition show itself? The average punter sees at least 2 wasted letters/calls/emails reminding an appointment then its changed, the on turning up a delay of 30 mins minimum. Asked to explain why you are there – no records requiring repeating info, then passed on to someone else and you do it all again.
        I imagine the competition is how quickly you can finish or pass on to someone else? Then a ‘how did we do?’ survey for another lot of admin to deal with.

  3. Lifelogic
    November 20, 2023

    Well how do you measure public sector productivity? So much of what they produce is entirely negative or largely negative. HS2, spewing red tape, the net zero lunacy, road blocking, over restrictive and costly planning, bonkers employment and tenancy laws, over taxation and over complex taxation, the net zero religion/fraud…

    1. Lifelogic
      November 20, 2023

      Dame Andrea Jenkyns accuses BBC of ‘rank hypocrisy’ and tells broadcaster to ‘practice what they preach’ after reporter racked up tens of thousands of air miles to make Panorama programme on climate change. Well the same applies to the internet billionaires, Sunak, the people who attend earth conferences, our deluded King of climate hypocrisy…

      Needless to say the programme despite all this travel was pure propaganda as we expect from the BBC. Did they even save some CO2 by flying economy?

      1. Michelle
        November 20, 2023

        I used to find it amusing that the climate change chiefs could spew out all the dire warnings to the plebs, while at the same time doing the very things they were warning of. Preaching from a gas guzzling private jet or yacht to others on their consumption can only be laughed at.
        The comedic element has gone for me now, and I actually find it terrifying that so many people seem unable to see the propaganda/ hypocrisy. It’s not as if you need special glasses to see it, it’s quite open.
        An article I was reading the other day on climate change hysteria mentioned the ‘just stop oil’ group, calling them ‘over-educated’.
        They are not over-educated, they are not even educated they are indoctrinated. There is a huge difference.

    2. Berkshire Alan
      November 20, 2023

      “How do you measure public sector productivity”
      I was going to ask exactly the same Question.
      Is it by the number of e mails you send, by the number you receive, how many people you copy in, the number of telephone conversations you have, the weight of paperwork that passes across your desk, the number of hours worked (difficult given many are at home), the number of cases/topics that you take part in, the number of meetings you arrange/attend.
      Just How do you measure the success/worth of a Civil Servant. ?

    3. MFD
      November 20, 2023

      I have got to agree with you LL, far too many inky fingers alwYs mean really poor value for money

  4. Lifelogic
    November 20, 2023

    From the BBC Panarama web site “Almost every country in the world has made a commitment to limit the rise in global warming to 1.5 degrees. The experts say that will only happen if we stop searching for new fossil fuels. So why is oil, coal and gas exploration still booming? As world leaders prepare for a landmark climate conference in Dubai, reporter Richard Bilton investigates why we are still looking for buried carbon in almost every part of the globe”

    Well might is be because about 90% plus of the energy humans currently use comes from fossil fuels and it does massive good? Not true on the “commitments” to limit the rise in temp. very few are binding so not comittments and few countries will stick to this lunacy anyway. The idea you can limit warming to 1.5 degrees by restricting CO2 is total lunacy anyway. CO2 is not some world thermostat!

    Bilton seems to have read Communications at Birmingham University so like nearly everyone front of Camera at the BBC he surely has little grasp of science, energy realities, energy engineering, climate…

    1. Lifelogic
      November 20, 2023

      I forced myself to watch this Panorama, it is the usual one sided bogus propaganda we expect of the BBC on the climate alarmist topic. They did get one thing right though, the idea that forests reduce atmospheric CO2 is greatly exaggerated (buying carbon offsets is really just a con trick to enable some richer people to think better of themselves as they fly round the world in first or business class). A con trick just like converting you Aston Martin to run off waste wine and cheese products. CO2 is not a problem anyway actually a net good, but if you do want to reduce it by using trees you should chop old trees down then use the wood so it stays as wood for a long time and plant new trees it their place. Certainly not import it on diesel ship and burn it at Drax or sell fake Carbon offset (religious indulgences) to gullible self deluding dopes.

    2. Peter Wood
      November 20, 2023

      1.5 deg.C above what temperature………? Only a hard, verifiable number will do!

    3. Hope
      November 20, 2023

      I deliberately try not read or watch is totally u reliable and full of propaganda. Govt has failed the nation after repeated claims over 14 years to change it. Saville, Bashier etc. nothing done but criticise others. Plurality claims over Sky but worse than Sky a huge fixed income irrespective of outcome. Presenters allowed to use platform to show extreme left wing political bias. It is now confident criticisms will be made but it can do as it please because of weak, woke feeble left wing Tory govt. read Minister Plebgate Mitchell’s interview, it is the same left wing woke mentality. He should be barred from office not back in cabinet. Depressing.

    4. Ian B
      November 20, 2023

      @LifeLogic – amazing figures and commitments to a ‘virtue signal’ an easy thing to do as long as like the greater majority of the World you don’t commit to deliberately and maliciously destroying your economy. The UK, is one of only 6 Countries that have made it Law for the whole Country to lose its jobs, economy and punish its citizens so all the other Countries that are pushing to grow the wealth instead. Conservative Governmeent destruct the UK Initiative

    5. Hope
      November 20, 2023

      The fault lies within JR’s party. We saw Tobias Elwood last week praise left wing socialism in his party as a vote winner. The exact opposite is true- 1979 Thatcher etc. The deluded fool who praised the Taliban! Elwood is a left winger in the wrong party.

      JR’s party have a large number of socialists who through snobbery joined the Tory party because they do not have the courage to be labelled socialists. Unfortunately JR’s side of the party has been steadily removed by central selection processes. May could not beat Corbyn! Her horrible persona has caused irreparable damage to the party but she and her like still remain. Centre right conservatism believing in our nation, values and culture would win every time. That does not exist in Tory govt.

    6. Original Richard
      November 20, 2023

      The BBC and Mr. Bilton know there is no CAGW caused by increasing CO2 emissions which is why they had no qualms for him to make this junket for the programme.

      They know of the work of Happer & Wijngaarden who have shown that there is no global warming caused by increasing levels of CO2 (natural or anthropogenic) because of IR saturation. Their calculations on the real atmosphere, including water vapour (omitted in the IPCC models), fit perfectly with the measured data above the equator and at Mediterranean latitudes and fit so well that they even show correctly that CO2 COOLS rather than warms above Antarctica:

      This BBC Panorama programme was another designed to get our country to implement the economy destroying Net Zero Strategy and accept the rationing of energy, food, heating and transport to save the planet, whilst China, India and the rest of the world carry on burning hydrocarbon fuels on a massive scale.

  5. Mike Wilson
    November 20, 2023

    My wife has an injury – ongoing (for about a year now) – which is debilitating and painful. Eventually, finally – she had an MRI a month ago. Still haven’t heard the result. Upon chasing, we are told ‘the consultant will ‘have a look at it when he has time’. We are now at the point of finding out who in the trust we have to make a formal complaint to. Crap service from them, stress and pain for my wife and more time and resources about to be spent on a complaints procedure. Utterly hopeless.

    1. Lifelogic
      November 20, 2023

      I needed such a scan once, I saw a private GP on a Thursday then flew London on Sunaday, Saw the consultant in Sloane Square on Monday he booked the scan (kings Road at 1.00) back to consultant at 6.00 he had already diagnosed and found a suitable surgeon, operation at the Lister Hosp. on Wed AM. Back working overseas on the Friday. It was about 6 years back but total cost was £15,000 easily affordable as I have not wasted £80k on two absurd, more emissions but elsewhere, EV cars and just kept my far preferable old V70 and Golf Cab. Also back to work far more quickly. And far safer to have the op. promptly before it could burst and perhaps kill me.

      The NHS should pay 50% of the private costs of treatments to get people off their waiting list, bsck to work and to save the NHS money too.

    2. Ian B
      November 20, 2023

      @Mike Wilson – so sorry to hear that Mike. I do know from my end that is now similar practice, delay, miss-direction. The hope is you will go away and fund your health by private means. Meaning the same people get paid for a 2nd time through thier private work, because they are still get paid for having NHS clients.

    3. Michelle
      November 20, 2023

      Perhaps the consultant is very busy attending some political march!!
      NHS is another institute being used as a political battering ram by those within it. It gets less about its core business and more of a platform for the type.
      It seems my County Fire Service is run by Stonewall judging by pronouncements made regularly and the rainbow flag flying from stations.

    4. Berkshire Alan
      November 20, 2023

      Can only suggest your either contact PALs or the Consultants Secretary. Seems to work in most cases.

      Afraid management and admin in the NHS is the biggest failure for its patients, sad when so many seem to work in that area, as it lets down those on the front line who generally are good from personal experience.

    5. Lifelogic
      November 20, 2023

      Get access to the scan and get a private opinion (at least) it should not cost very much. If you use the same NHS specialist it has been referred to then for circa £200 and 20 mins it might at least shorten the waiting a bit even if you do still have to use the NHS. Plus at least you will know what can or cannot be done, what the waiting is likely to be and what it might cost privately. Often NHS waiting times can be shortened like this.

    6. Wanderer
      November 20, 2023

      Awful for you both. I’ve been spending time in Austria. The health service here is all that one would wish for. See your GP same day if urgen, within 3 or 4 days otherwise. MR scans take from a day to a 3 weeks, depending on the urgency and the consultant – who you pick yourself, although your GP may recommend someone. All this paid for via your national insurance contributions.

      So why the heck can’t the UK provide something even half as good? Why hasn’t our Cabinet had the gumption to take on the NHS? An honest propaganda film showing how health works in various European countries (I’ve lived in France and it was similarly good) would convince the public to get on board.

      1. Mitchel
        November 21, 2023

        Austria doesn’t waste enormous sums of money pretending it is still an empire.

    7. Roy Grainger
      November 20, 2023

      There was an absolutely damning report in The Times on Saturday by the Health Service Ombudsman on exactly that combination of arrogance, poor service and failure. What is clear is that no amount of extra money will change that because lack of money is not what is causing the problem.

    8. graham1946
      November 20, 2023

      Go to or phone the hospital where she had the scan. They will have a PALS office there or you can find one for your local trust. If you make a complaint they will take it up for you. I have found them very useful in the past. Not sure about nowadays, but surely worth a try rather than getting fobbed off. The other solution is to find the telephone number of the Consultant’s secretary and lay it there and say you are taking it up with the Trust – usually gets results. Unfortunately these days you have to be a nuisance to get anywhere – the squeaky wheel gets the oil. Don’t be put off. Be polite but firm.

    9. Iain gill
      November 21, 2023

      Complaints system in the NHS simply does not work. It’s a joke, entirely setup for the benefit of the system to look ok regardless of how poor their performance is. It will drain your energy, have no impact on the NHS or any of its staff. Don’t waste your time.

  6. Ian+wrag
    November 20, 2023

    A friend of mine works for HMRC. She was absolutely fuming because her boss asked her in on a Friday. It interferes with her gym and child minding programme.
    If you suck on the teat of the taxpayer it’s OK to WFH as and when you feel like it.
    Some of us aren’t so fortunate.

    1. Donna
      November 20, 2023

      Well, being asked to attend the office when you don’t want to can be very stressful; going to the gym is beneficial for her physical and mental health and disrupting her childminding arrangements is extremely inconvenient for everyone concerned.

      It would be a very brave Civil Service Manager who ignored all those “issues.” They could expect the lady to declare that she is suffering from stress and be signed off for several weeks, requiring a return-to-work plan in due course which would include due consideration for her physical/mental health and domestic arrangements ….. and quite possibly have to defend themselves in a complaint about bullying.

      Playing the system ….. how very dare you.

    2. Lifelogic
      November 20, 2023

      No the 80% in the private sector who pay for all this waste, incompetence, wages, sick leave, “working” from home, the beach or the pub and all their gold plated pensions.

    3. Mickey Taking
      November 20, 2023

      a new variation on ‘dress down Friday’. Dress down, go anywhere but work, sort out domestic issues.
      Sounds very creative. I think it caught on about 3 years ago.

      1. Mickey Taking
        November 21, 2023


    4. Ian+wrag
      November 20, 2023

      Interesting to see the BBC and Guardian having a meltdown after the Argentine elections. Someone who wants to root out corruption and inject some fiscal probity into government is labelled a far right nutter.
      As long as he doesn’t get sacked into the UN/WEF net zero garbage Argentina had th resources to be a vibrant economy. Unlike the UK and the band of brothers intent on destroying us.

    5. paul cuthbertson
      November 20, 2023

      IW – I am led to believe government and local government employees are provided / allowed so many paid sick days. You could not make this crap up. This induces a non work ethic which is ramapant throughout the UK at present and BY DESIGN.

  7. Lynn Atkinson
    November 20, 2023

    I have just spent some 3 weeks dealing with the failure of computer systems which promise ‘3 clicks and your done’. In one case it has taken the ‘experts’ on the phone hours to conclude that the system does not work in the circumstances that I need it to, so they have devised a pen and paper alternative for me. I assume they do this regularly, because getting through yo them is nigh impossible – so busy are they passing people from one ‘specialist team’ to another.
    Worse than having no computer system, no instructions, is clear instructions that do not work.
    So for every lousy, expensive system ‘to automate’ a raft of new employees are required, many in India!
    The Government need to simplify, reduce it’s ‘competences’ and increase it’s competence. Any tax that costs more to collect than it produces must be scrapped for starters, no matter how ‘worthy’ the punishment. Can Britain not secure hospital places in Ukrainian hospitals, just that Ukrainian ‘refugees’ travel home to the war-zone to escape the NHS. So there is an independent rating of the NHS for you.

  8. DOM
    November 20, 2023

    Parasitism run riot –


    20 November 2023

    Capita selected to administer the Civil Service Pension Scheme

    Capita plc (`Capita’) today announces it has secured a new contract to manage
    the Civil Service Pension Scheme (CSPS) for the Cabinet Office from September
    2025 in a deal worth £239m over 10 years.

    The CSPS is one of the largest public sector pension schemes in the UK.

    Under the new contract, Capita will modernise pensions administration systems
    through enhanced system design and digital innovation.

    We will integrate generative artificial intelligence (GenAI) technology to
    transform the pension experience for CSPS members, providing them with
    personalised and engaging digital channels to better plan and manage their
    retirement savings.

    Enhancing the end-to-end customer experience will create more intuitive and
    innovative interactions for both our client and pension members, while providing
    the insights to support a data driven approach for employers within the scheme.

    The contract builds on Capita’s strong track record of successful delivery as a
    strategic supplier to UK Government and the company’s depth of experience
    operating in the regulated pensions market.

    Jon Lewis, Chief Executive Officer, Capita, said: “We are exceptionally proud to
    have been selected to administer the CSPS.

    “This award is testament to the commitment of our colleagues to design
    innovative solutions and deliver exceptional customer experience.

    “We are committed to offering seamless, tailored experiences and with generative
    AI we can deliver new levels of personalisation for all CSPS members.”

    Capita will be responsible for delivering employer and member services; pensions
    payroll; administration services relating to the Civil Service Compensation
    Scheme; Civil Service Injury Benefit Scheme; and related finance and accounting

    Notes to editors:

    The total IFRS 15 transaction price (order book) is £239m.

  9. Donna
    November 20, 2023

    As soon as a new Senior Civil Servant or Quango-Manager is recruited, they start to expand their fiefdom. That’s how they demonstrate their importance and get more funding.

    When Departments are absolutely forced to slim down, these Senior Managers dispense with the services of people in the low ranks (ie the front line) which means minimal financial savings and maximum disruption to service provision.

    After a short period of (deliberately generated) chaos, the Senior Managers are given permission by their political “masters” to start recruiting again. Rinse and repeat.

    And now we have the Diversity, Inclusion and Equality boondoggle, which means Quangos like the NHS can spend £millions advancing the cause of Cultural Marxism, whilst at the same time claiming to be underfunded.

    The Not-a-Conservative-Party hasn’t the Will or the Cojones to stop the taxpayer-funded merry-go-round, even if it wanted to. And it clearly doesn’t.

  10. Narrow Shoulders
    November 20, 2023

    One reason the civil service is not productive is the lack of authority to solve issues that the workers on the front line are given.

    Any query of reasonable complexity must be passed up the chain for a solution instead of being solved by the first person the caller comes into contact with.

    A recent tax credit issue where payment was demanded from me after 14 years could not be written off by any of the first 10 people I spoke to on the phone over 10 months despite them all agreeing the HMRC was in the wrong. None of them had the authority to act, all telling me to fill in various forms and speak to another department. To avoid the bailiffs being called in I had to agree to a repayment programme.

    In the end I had to follow the complaints procedure to get resolution, they have still not paid me back 2 months later.

    A properly authorised tax officer would have sorted it in five minutes

    1. Narrow Shoulders
      November 20, 2023

      If you are going to let people work from home where they can not turn round and talk to their manager to get a steer then they need to be far more independent.

  11. David Andrews
    November 20, 2023

    The civil service is out of control. Getting it back under control will be a monumental task. It is not obvious that any politician in charge or potentially in charge has a clue what to do about it, even if they had the intent.

    1. Mickey Taking
      November 21, 2023

      The answer is a cull…10% redundancies will focus minds – but probably about how to avoid rules and rehire more!

  12. Bryan Harris
    November 20, 2023

    So, with every increase in personnel, we see a decrease in effectiveness, but surely, it seems, top civil servants are working along similar ideology to the government in this.
    When HMG perceive a problem, their response is normally to throw money at it to hope it will go away – civil services bosses do this with people.

    It is time the civil service was culled – they have too much power and influence, while they fail to deliver. Start at the top.
    If I had any say in this I’d start by introducing private companies to do specific tasks for HMG, then gradually expand it.

    The problem of course is that the civil service bosses are more powerful than ministers – look at how many ministers were seen off for daring to demand that that their orders were carried out!

    It really is time HMG got a grip on this problem – but that would require someone with steel intention.

    1. M.A.N.
      November 22, 2023

      What Cummings said coming home to roost. He repeatedly pointed to deficiencies in Whitehall. He went on record as saying that Cameron had ‘no interest’ in reforming the civil service. Ok, that’s his choice, but eventually ‘someone’ will have to. Or events will force remodelling. There were some ominous warnings about the uk economy from hunt stretching some way into the future. When civil servants were reluctant to return to their offices why were they not forced to? Would strike action have been implemented if such a decree were given?

  13. Michelle
    November 20, 2023

    How many years of a Conservative government?
    Now we have a more bloated civil service/Quango/NGO sector than ever and one wielding ever more power over us.
    All of it, taking us in one direction. A direction it seems many of the staff are re-educated to comply with.
    The chances of anyone being able to remove the political commissars within and reorganising it to do its actual job gets slimmer by the day. Such a person is bound to be labelled ‘far right’ and the media swing into full propaganda mode to back this up.
    We only have to look at the fuss over Dominic Raab. I have no personal experience of working for Raab, and he may have been a bully I really couldn’t say. However, that should have been kept in house, for staff and their Union reps. to sort out which they could have done.
    It was deliberately taken to extremes in the public domain all for political reasons in my view, and yet again the Conservatives allowed that to happen.

  14. Bloke
    November 20, 2023

    The Conservatives developed into wasters, employing more people to find even more ways to waste valuable time and money at taxpayers’ expense. Wasters need dumping with all other rubbish.

  15. Sakara Gold
    November 20, 2023

    The rapid introduction of AI into the civil service and the QUANGOs will sort the productivity problem. Labour will benefit from the savings, allowing investment in their Green Plan and their other priorities.

    Few people, other than the Elon Musks of this world can see the far-reaching changes that this new technology will introduce.

    I look forward to investing a modest amount of my SIPP in an “AI” ETF in due course

    1. Iain gill
      November 21, 2023


  16. Ian B
    November 20, 2023

    “The rise of the civil service” inevitable, the UK and what some people call a democratically elected government refuses to ‘manage’ they prefer to hand over the control of the UK to the unelected, unaccountable that are not required to deliver anything. Or in other words the collective ‘Blob’ can build empires because they are the ones that rule in Parliament through their own appointed puppets.
    We do not have an elected Government in the UK, they UK people have no say.

  17. Pat
    November 20, 2023

    Nadine Dorries’ book ‘The Plot. The political assassination of Boris Johnson’ is a rollicking good read. Much of it has a ring of truth! Your thoughts Sir John?

  18. Jeff
    November 20, 2023

    Just tell them to cut their budget by 15%.

  19. Brian Tomkinson
    November 20, 2023

    Daily Telegraph 18 November 2023 : “Civil servants given go ahead to work from beach” servants have been given,in “from the beach”.
    As I have so often written this is the worst government and House of Commons in my lifetime and I have witnessed many bad ones.

  20. Denis Cooper
    November 20, 2023

    Off topic, there is an interesting interview with Michel Barnier here:

    and also here:

    Picking out one of many notable passages:

    “He blames the European Court of Justice for reducing states’ freedom to act in the name of national security and expanding migrants’ rights to bring family members: “You can find nothing in the French constitution about migration, and there is almost nothing in the European treaties. For 30 or 40 years, there’s a kind of interpretation that is always in favour of the migrants … We have to rewrite something in the [EU] treaties or in the [European Convention of Human Rights].”

    So he is hoping to reform the EU, like Cameron in 2015? “We have to provoke a discussion at the European level … During this time, we have to create a constitutional shield [allowing national law to take precedence], and to ask the French people to decide.” In other words, a referendum, including the creation of annual immigration quotas.”

    Did he actually make it clear that he would use French national law to disapply France’s treaty obligations, or was that only the interpretation that the interviewer put on his words?

  21. graham1946
    November 20, 2023

    I’ve never understood the term ‘Director’ when it comes to civil service and local government. Having been a small company director and self employed most of my life, I have always thought of ‘Director’ as someone who has a stake in the business and risks his own money. These people do nothing of the sort. I have had a fair bit to do with planning in recent years and have given evidence at public inquiries and have met ‘Planning Directors’. Other than their professional qualifications I have found them most unimpressive and certainly wouldn’t have them run any business of mine.

  22. iain gill
    November 20, 2023

    you shouldn’t just count permanent headcount, you also need a proper count of contractors, and workers for the big outsourcers working on public sector projects.

    its easy to reduce one and push up another, its bringing the total of all of these down that is the challenge.

    some skills the public sector routinely underpays and gets low quality, other skills (especially generic senior execs and management) they massively overpay compared to market.

    if things like the tax & benefits system were massively simplified then the admin costs of those could be massively reduced, with a big cut in workers working on their admin, and such saving could be used to actually help the British people in much better ways. but this would need the whole political spectrum to stop trying to make the system more complex again at every turn. make is simple, so the software to manage it is simple, and the business processes are simple, and the numbers of staff needed for admin are far fewer.

  23. steroflex
    November 20, 2023

    Ever heard of Parkinson’s Law?
    Steve Barclay, at ~Health, reduced the number of desk sitters. It can be done.
    And must be – as a matter of urgency.

    1. ChrisS
      November 22, 2023

      One of the few competent ministers, and then Sunak demoted him !

  24. rose
    November 20, 2023

    The case for abolishing IHT is this:
    1 It raises comparatively little
    2 It is intrusive and insensitive as well as unfair
    3 It isn’t simple or cheap to collect
    4 It is paid by the little people, the owners of humble little terraced houses which have soared in value because of the Government’s failure to curtail mass, out of control immigration
    5 It distorts investment. The very well off don’t pay IHT, preferring to espouse various schemes to avoid it, when they could be investing that money in the country’s future.

    VAT should also be abolished because it it inflationary. It discourages small business from growing. It is an anomaly, the EU tax which was invented for Southern Europeans who wouldn’t pay their other taxes, and to provid income for the Commission.

    Stamp Duty too should go. It is affecting the housing market badly. People are refusing to move who otherwise would. This pushes up the price of houses even further.

    1. rose
      November 20, 2023

      One more reason to get rid of IHT: it is anti aspirational. The media keep telling us only a very few pay it, but they are excluding the numbers of beneficiaries from each estate, counting only the deceased person. And they are ignoring the millions who fear one day they may have to pay IHT, who should instead be concentrating on prospering. The opposition to abolition of IHT whips up class hatred and envy in a very nasty and desructive way. It should not be pandered to, but Conservative MPs have now joined in, as when they brought down the Truss administration over the 5p off the higher rate.

      1. rose
        November 20, 2023

        Sorry, both these were meant for yesterday’s piece.

  25. Javelin
    November 20, 2023

    You cannot measure the civil service by their productivity but by how little damage they do relative to a market economy.

  26. Des
    November 20, 2023

    The idea that what is supposed to be an administrative/ maintenence service can be productive is absurd. It is parasitic. The only productive part of an economy is private business. 80% of the public sector would be better abolished and the remainder run by organisations that have to please their customers. Of course Britain wouldn’t then be provoking and funding foreign wars or importing the third world but some of us might consider that a bonus.

  27. a-tracy
    November 20, 2023

    The ONS in Dec 2022, (population 56.3m worldometer) says the UK population increased by 19.8% in the last 50 years (11.1 million). 5.9% in the last decade (3.7m) nearly 68 million people. Median age 40.1. So has the number of civil servants risen in line with this growth, even though technology in every other company, digital advancements, e-mails instead of post, wordprocessors instead of typing pools, direct transmission of data to government dept that no longer requires re-entry?

    The numbers of ‘civil servants’ are just the tip of the iceberg, a lot of outsourcing of civil service departments to ‘private and charity companies’ such as housing associations and outsourcers (only supplying government) are hidden ‘civil servants’ are their sick leave and terms on TUPE transfers is often just the same.

  28. agricola
    November 20, 2023

    The rot started when we joined the EU. Erroniously they were given a seat at the table of power in Brussels, big political mistake.
    Having lost that seat after 2016 they have been in a state of permanent hissy fit ever since. Exacerbated by politicians reluctance to govern.
    Their contract of employment needs a total rewrite to include hire and fire plus the introduction of professional outside management where expertise is required. I do not mean management consultants who by definition are an admission of failure. I mean permanently employed management who have proved themselves in industry. If you cannot see this just add up the failure upon failure of UK infrastructure over the last 30 years.
    Get them back into Whitehall to collect thejr P45s. However you are too late, grabbing at pieces of driftwood, your ship has gone down.

  29. Original Richard
    November 20, 2023

    The main purpose of civil service expansion is to reduce unemployment, and, as for the massive university sector, remove from the workforce employees who could be doing useful work, perhaps even earning money for the country.

    Because some civil servants believe they need to justify their employment (they don’t) they invent further rules, regulations, restrictions and charges for the rest of us. So it was good news to read today that civil servants have been officially granted the permission to work remotely overseas for a maximum of two weeks per year as hopefully this will slow down their destruction of our economy whilst they enjoy the beach.

    I always thought that the civil service WFH, included homes in foreign countries and anyway how does the civil service know from where their employees are working when they can use a VPN to log in or even use their own UK router remotely?

    BTW, is there any requirement for a civil servant to be a UK national or resident in the UK?

  30. Tony+Hart
    November 20, 2023

    Prior Planning and Preparation Prevents Piss-Poor Performance!!

  31. Chris S
    November 20, 2023

    We will never see an improvement until commercial managers are put in charge of civil servants.

    Governments need to be able to have the option of replacing the heads of department with their nominees, if they are not satisfied with progress in implementing government policy. They are all old enough to retire, anyway.
    The majority of ministers are subverted and just give up and go with the flow. Their officials supply then with a constant stream of excuses as to why this or that is impossible or that it will take years to introduce. In recent years, all the ministers who have demanded full adherence to their policies are got rid of, either by accusations of bullying, of being left exposed by their officials so that the PM replaces them.

    Remember, it was the Treasury, Bank of England and civil servants in No 10 that instigated the coup that replaced Liz Truss with their preferred PM, Sunak. That was an event unprecedented in post-war politics and now we will see Hunt implementing tax cuts this week that Liz Truss wanted to bring in a year ago. It is now clear that there was the fiscal headroom for her to have done it because the OBR, the Bank and Treasury forecasts were all wrong, as usual.

  32. Linda Brown
    November 20, 2023

    I thought one of Lord Whathisname of Chipping Norton manifesto was to get rid of quangos. What a joke he was, or we are, and now Foreign Secretary. I worry for the world with him prancing around. On the Civil Service, I was one of them a number of years ago, and we did the job superbly which is in question now. How you get the right people into the jobs seems to be the problem with the current education system which caters for left wingers and those who might have no brain power but parents who can afford to send them to private schools.

    1. Mickey Taking
      November 21, 2023

      He should have chosen Lord Dave of Dead Boar. Fits wonderfully.

  33. Jude
    November 20, 2023

    Low productivity comes from poor management, poor leadership & lack of discipline at senior level. Leading by example is key.
    This level of incompetence breeds low quality teams or damages the morale of productive teams
    A quick sharp cull is needed. Start at the top & replace every under performing manager first. Then they will restructure the teams.
    However, it is key to reduce part-time working to a minimum. Full-time employees are more productive than a myriad of part-time workers.

    1. a-tracy
      November 21, 2023

      Not always, Jude, it is challenging to get better productivity out of a growing sickness culture where concessions have to be made for numerous conditions, now, we are told to add ‘the menopause’ to a whole host of acceptable reasons for repeated absence at short notice from time off for dependants, the employer cannot penalise employees for taking or seeking to take that time off as for health issues. All our Managers have exceptional attendance and try to lead by example. Keeping on a much older workforce also requires more time off for medical issues. In big companies, carrying extra staff all year round to cover seems to be the way they resolve this; small companies don’t have that.

      It is challenging to achieve great productivity when our local Councils revel in putting ridiculous roadworks in place to detain people at four-way replacement traffic lights for 20 minutes at a time. Just today, a 5-minute trip turned into 20; someone had agreed to place a temporary pedestrian crossing just before four-way traffic lights; this meant a queue for two miles in the town centre in the rush hour as the roads all jammed up, when the green light eventually came around to allow one lane to move, some bright sparks decided to press the pedestrian crossing, when they’d been crossing freely for several minutes, so by the time the lane finally moved forward, the lights sensors hadn’t triggered vehicles so changed back to red. The way motorways are just shut for a couple of hours to move vehicles off the motorway as the hard shoulder no longer exists. Another road was shut down to one lane for weeks. Did they repair the three big potholes in it? Of course, they didn’t.

      Any other 7-day-per-week business still operates but our public sector seems to have opted out, so more falls in the five-day week.

  34. XY
    November 20, 2023

    Have you seen the standard of people emerging from our education system these days?

    People with no abilities cannot produce much of anything, no matter how many of them you employ.

    Root causes, once again.

    However, the question you really ask is “How can you employ more of them and see matters actually get worse?”. That’s partly a management issue.

    However, you also need to look at the work these extras are doing. Refer to my post (quite some time ago now) which described the NHS IT systems where over 100 people were employed to fix errors in data moving between systems. Sensible organisations don’t have such manual error correction – they don’t have errors to correct manually.

    It’s a consequence of putting a major govt facility in a small town, it becomes like a mining community – everyone in the town works there, by hook or by crook. And if there’s no vacancy, they create one. That’s much easier to do (to get away with) in a govt institution than in one in the private sector that’s run for profit.

    So it’s not just that the people are doing their jobs badly, it’s that the existence of the job itself engenders inefficiency in the organisation. In the above example the 100+ people are part of the problem, but the people doing the data transfer have to do it very badly in the first place in order to create these jobs.

  35. Bert+Young
    November 20, 2023

    Control of the Civil Service depends on effective professional management ; planning is one thing – action is another . If political leadership is weak the Civil Service takes control and protects its own personnel ;it never has had a record of slimming down and maintaining efficiency . Top down vision together with medium to long term planning is the only way to achieve goals and success ; this applies to any organisation be it large or small . As things stand I do not see anyone in the Cabinet with a record that would be capable of running any business – the result is the mayhem that exists .

  36. Original Richard
    November 20, 2023

    Off topic, but only slightly as I see the NHS as an arm of the civil service.

    The NHS needs to ensure all its ambulances comply with London Mayor Khan’s ULEZ scheme. The London Ambulance Service says that 27% of its fleet is non-compliant and 255 vehicles needs replacing and the South East Coast Ambulance Service needs to replace 279 vehicles.

    At £140,000 per vehicle I calculate this to be £74m.

    Will the Government’s new ‘common sense’ tsar tell either Mayor Khan to drop the necessity for compliance for these vehicles or, if he refuses, tell the ambulance services to pay instead the £12.50/day charges rather than scrap these vehicles?

    At £12.50/day it would take 30 years to reach £140,000.

    [And there is every chance ULEZ will be scrapped after the next London Mayoral election]

    1. a-tracy
      November 21, 2023

      Just exempt ambulances from the charge; they are an exceptional vehicle that requires the delay to save our lives. There are other vehicles exempted, didn’t I read that Licenced London taxis, disabled drivers and passenger vehicles, classic cars, mini-buses for community transport, showman’s vehicles!

  37. Ralph Corderoy
    November 20, 2023

    ‘At the same time there has been expansion in numbers at various quangos and so called independent bodies.’

    If it is going to be centrally planned then plan from the centre. Don’t outsource to a parallel ‘independent’ quango. The quango’s overheads are higher than the Government department’s due to lack of scale. The Government spends time ‘liaising’ with the quango but what it wants does not get done. The quango adds another revolving door which bumps salary every time it is used.

    A Minister think a quango saves his ‘scrawny’ from the chopping block but voters can’t withdraw quango funding, change its remit, or sack its intelligentsia management so delight in voting for Christmas so the turkey gets it.

  38. ancientPopeye
    November 20, 2023

    This is our unelected quaisie Government, allowed by our shoo-in PM.
    Time the Government got serious and took on these autocrats. By the way, when is that Quango bonfire taking place?

  39. Hope
    November 20, 2023

    I note (Sunak)giving another 5 priorities falsely claiming he can be trusted!! Does he remember back stabbing Jonson? Did he not read what he agreed with Braverman? Does he remember stating he would serve with integrity and implement 2019 manifesto? Taxes are at a record high, business closures at a record high since 2008, weekend we read and aw a video of a trans book being read and indoctrinated to 10 year olds (another broken agreement he had with Braverman), debt is still increasing with record high debt interest ( I thought he was meant to be good with maths?). He sold our country out to EU with his EU Windsor sell out thereby giving away N.Ireland and tying GB to EU, same for fishing waters and energy. Cameron is an ardent EU remainer who acted in bad faith to the nation over the remaining in the EU by rigging referndum and preventing preparation to leave, tax and immigration. (Sunak)just brought him back to bolster where he left off!

    JR, does he have any shame or sense that people do not believe him any more because of repeated lies and broken promises? This will not change no matter how many times he makes further false claims.

  40. Roy Grainger
    November 20, 2023

    I’ve seen the claim that allowing civil servants to work from home increases their productivity. There should be enough data to evaluate the truth of that now. On the face of it it seems the opposite is true. Similarly the SNP’s claim that allowing civil servants to work a four day week for the same pay will also have no effect on productivity.

    1. Mickey Taking
      November 21, 2023

      work from home increases their productivity – domestic of course.

  41. Keith from Leeds
    November 20, 2023

    As I have written, the Civil Service is out of control with too many staff. Make 430,000 redundant and insist the Government works with 100,000. Then, you will see productivity go up. I would also cut back to 12 departments as it is nonsense to try and run the UK with a cabinet of 30/31 people. Likewise, you will only control Quangos through serious budget cuts, I suggest a 50% cut from the start of the next financial year.
    But none of that will happen because you have a weak PM, Chancellor and now a weak Foreign Secretary. All of them are Remainers, all Net Zero enthusiasts, all pro-immigration, all high spenders, all pro the Biased Broadcasting Corporation, none of them have any bold vision for the future of the UK. Sunak has now lost the next General Election, unless conservative MPs boot him out. They need to act now or they will lose badly whenever the GE takes place. Sir John for PM is my vote.

  42. Kenneth
    November 20, 2023

    The civil service is not a service at all but has increasingly taken over government.

    It is staging a coup.

  43. iain gill
    November 20, 2023

    I see Rishi has another list of 5 “promises”

    The promise to reduce NHS waiting lists seems to have disappeared, so the promise turned into a non promise?

    He has a new promise to “reduce the national debt” I have been rolling around the floor in tears of laughter. The deficit has been greater than zero for a very long time, the chances of it going negative and the country actually paying back some of the national debt is precisely zero. Especially with a political class addicted to wasting money, on HS2, supposed “aid” to a bunch of countries that hate us, and so on.

    The level of comedy coming out of the government is staggering.

  44. Original Richard
    November 20, 2023

    Any chance please, Sir John, you can ask how many civil servants are working on the Net Zero Strategy?

  45. Ian B
    November 20, 2023

    “Hunt to launch ‘moonshot’ quantum supercomputing programme in Autumn Statement.” Sounds like ‘Baldrick’ has escaped once more… ‘I have an idea…’
    Let’s deflect the public and the medias gaze from us not being able to get a grip with the Treasury, the economy, in fact doing anything. Never forget I have read philosophy, politics and economics, so I am well qualified as a creator of super computers, we don’t need a science minister for that – my department are run so well so we need to garner more praise worthy headlines.
    I and my fello Chancellor have screwed around with the economy, pushed it down the drain, we have evolved the NHS into be a waste of public money – a cash cow, we want people in electric cars – but we can’t provide the electricity. We can spend the taxpayers hard earned money, we are good at that, but we need to stop people asking what do they get from all this money all these extra debts in return. The ‘little people should be happy we have created a debt they will pay for a generation after we have left the Country – so they should be happy abnd stop asking difficult questions. We have increased the size of the Civil Service, the Establishment, the hangers on – but people must stop asking about results and return – to us the UK’s 2 prize Chancellors it is about chucking the hard-earned money down the drain as they, the little people, don’t need it. If the ‘little people’ get to keep more of their own money, they might spend it on creating more wealth and cause the UK to thrive.
    All on our own as unwelcome Chancellors we have caused the high interests’ rates, the rip-roaring inflation. So now with a GE coming up you the electorate need to understand we are great, it’s not about doing, it’s about talking, it’s about the next soundbite, giving the media a headline and maximizing deflection.

    Would any one trust particularly this Conservative Government let alone any Government to run a business an industry a service? Add to the above, the railways, the roads, defense and defense procurement all Government run and managed money pits. Now the new plan ‘super computers’? So what will tomorrows soundbite, big lie to be?

  46. outsider
    November 20, 2023

    Dear Sir John,
    Your final paragraph should be a mission statement for all the public ( and some private) services.
    Improving performance, efficiency and productivity appears to be a function centred on the Cabinet Office. It could start by having a look at itself. What was once essentially the PM’s office has acquired a bewildering array of reponsibilities, few of which have any discernibly direct and or measurable output. Except that it probably calls more meetings than any other organisation in the country.

    Along the way, the Cabinet Office has accumulated a staff of more than 10,000
    and now appears to support nine ministers (including the Leader of The House) and still requires its own Parliamentary Private Secretary.

    Some of its activities suggest encrustation by the accumulated control freakery and hobby horses of a succession of Prime Ministers. Others suggest that it shadow-manages other parts of Whitehall much as other departments used to shadow-manage the managers of nationalised industries.

    There must be a simpler way. That would have been an obvious task for yourself, had the Truss government not fallen at the first fence.

  47. iain gill
    November 20, 2023

    I see all the IT is down in parliament…

    Hope it doesn’t delay you work on this site John.

    I know some of the senior IT people in parliament, they were a laughing stock at their last place of employment so this does not surprise me. No doubt they are wearing woke lanyards though and virtue signalling in lots of meetings.

    Its so sad what a mess our country is in.

    Reply This is not a Parly site. I pay for it.

    1. Iain gill
      November 21, 2023

      I know it’s an independent site, I just thought you maybe logging onto it from a device on the parliamentary site and network when you are there.

      1. Mickey Taking
        November 21, 2023

        WiFi or cell radio.

  48. Ian B
    November 20, 2023

    “Tax cuts will boost economic growth”, says Sunak
    ‘Rishi Sunak has vowed to cut tax and reward hard work in a speech on the economy ahead of the Autumn Statement.’

    That means someone he was part of the cabal briefing against – was correct all along. He has caused the inflation(it was his cabal that caused it no one one else), the rise in costs and the addition debts and interest rate hikes – wasted 12 months of everyone elses efforts while we had to enduring 12 months of his punishment. Why?

    But then it is just another speech, no action. I would rather he said nothing and got on with what we pay for.

  49. Lynn Atkinson
    November 20, 2023

    Off topic: ’South Africa to withdraw from Refugee Treaties in order to restrict immigration.’
    Time Britain took a lesson from Ramaphosa! This is of course unilateral action as any withdrawal from any Treaty is in law. Why did ol’ Lord Chippy and pals make such a song and dance about withdrawing from the Treaty of Rome – unless they did not want to? Will they withdraw from the Refugee Treaties? Why should we vote for these people who can but will not!

    1. Hope
      November 21, 2023

      It is a posh boy indoctrination to shower the poor with taxpayers’ money. Over £3 billion in foreign aid given to African organisation to spend as it wants!! At least the US pits condition on its aid ie use US businesses and act in its interests. What idiots would just give money away to spend as it likes without any accountability? Other than the Tories who make it law to spend vast amounts that need to be borrowed first with interest!

  50. Michael Saxton
    November 20, 2023

    I’m astonished and dismayed to read these numbers! How on earth can 63,000 more Civil Servants be justified and who authorised such an increase? And authorised during the time during covid and lockdown when working from home was the norm. Equally worrying is the practice of Civil Servants working from home is being allowed to continue! Where is the rigour the discipline and the dedication to serving the public from these people? Civil Service recruiting is completely out of control; an urgent investigation is required.

  51. glen cullen
    November 20, 2023

    Barclays closing 19 branchs ….all part of the net-zero online plan

  52. glen cullen
    November 20, 2023

    Dont tell our civil service but in europe opinion is changing –
    ”Former Brexit negotiator Michelle Barnier has criticised the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), demanding a “constitutional shield” to prevent soaring migration.”
    They need to get with the new program

  53. glen cullen
    November 20, 2023

    My council has just posted on facebook
    ”Today we mark Transgender Day of Remembrance”
    Is this good use of public funds and time ???? Its hard to believe councils could do this with a tory government

    1. Lynn Atkinson
      November 21, 2023

      All these ridiculous expenditures need to be docked from next years funding. The amount need to be specified in each Councils case so the poor bloody taxpayer stands. Chance of holding them to account.

  54. oldwulf
    November 21, 2023

    A private sector entity has the discipline of needing to ultimately make a profit. If it fails, then it will cease to exist. There is no equivalent discipline in the public sector.

    If a public sector entity manages to keep its expenditure within a budget, there is of course no guarantee of outcome.

    So, how do we make a public sector entity accountable ?

    For one example, the OBR always seems to get things wrong and I am surprised that it continues to exist.

    Another example is the B of E. Presumably, its existence is guaranteed. However, the MPC needs to be replaced, having missed its inflation target by such a huge amount.

    Which political party has the guts to get a grip on all of this ?

  55. Chris S
    November 21, 2023

    Some things in the publicsector are done really well.

    The systems designed for electronic Passport renewals, for example are fantastically slick and efficient, as are routine driving licence renewals, taxing a car and SORNs. The problems start when anything requires manual intervention. The benefits system, is a classic case in point.

    As much as possible needs to be automated, especially when AI is becoming better by the day. Part of the problem is the inability of large sections of society to handle any form of technology. The ridiculous row over railway ticket offices is a case in point. Almost everybody should be able to use a ticket machine and the redeployed staff will be there to help the small minority who can’t.

    But other areas such as car park ticket machines and public EV chargers need drastic changes. There should be one system that accepts credit cards and all machines should work in the same way and with all controls in the same layout.

    1. a-tracy
      November 21, 2023

      Chris, except when the passport office electronic renewal failed, and passports took more than four months recently, one of my children lost a work opportunity they never got back. They queued outside the passport office in the cold for a full day, then when they got seen, they were told the passport had been sent to Belfast so that it couldn’t be fast-tracked.

      All I saw in London was railway staff in stations standing and talking to each other. I saw a ticket checker let a young man off not buying a ticket with a fist bump when he said I’ll get off at the next stop, he’d been riding free for five stops! They revel in hiding touch-in and out machines behind walls, I see lots of people getting off at quiet DLR stations without tapping in or out; the railways should concentrate on those not paying and abusing the system instead of just trying to find work for each other in passengerless kiosks.

      Car park machines should be tap in and tap out with debit cards like tfl with the extra keypad to put in your vehicle registration, my husband at one point had 20 different apps on his phone for car parking, you shouldn’t need a smart phone my father doesn’t have one.

    2. Original Richard
      November 21, 2023

      Chris S : “Almost everybody should be able to use a ticket machine and the redeployed staff will be there to help the small minority who can’t.”

      Isn’t the whole idea to NOT have anyone there to help out?

      If they are there to help out they might as well be issuing tickets in a ticket office. Or showing people how to use the machines.

      The whole idea is to remove all staff from (small) stations to reduce staff costs.

  56. Stred
    November 21, 2023

    Lately, some civil servants have given the game away and reported that the majority in their department are working against the elected politicians, refusing to act in an effective way or, if challenged, alleging bullying and getting their tribunals to confirm. Even an unfriendly tone of voice or frustration can upset them. It also turned out that the chief civil servant in the Home Office was against the action to limit numbers of economic migrants when she moved to take a job with a rights charity. Her name would suggest that she was herself from a foreign background. I suspect that many civil servants are trained or members of Common Purpose and working to globalist UN WEF agendas in all ministries.
    The only way to prevent this subversion is to pass legislation enabling ministers to sack them, without large payoffs, when they refuse to work in the office or competenly follow instructions. All of those working on woke Equality nonsense need to be sent down the road. In order to identify the wronguns, it would be necessary to use undercover agents to work among them. I suspect that at least half of the rising numbers of useless staff could be cut without any loss of effectiveness.


  57. Peter D Gardner
    November 22, 2023

    How can there be fewer civil servants than FTEs?

  58. Peter D Gardner
    November 22, 2023

    I suggest, Sir John, you enquire how many civil servants are administering the accommodation, health, education, welfare, legal, interpreter and other services provided to illegal migrants.
    I would suggest administration of services to legal immigrants probably also account for a great many civil servants.

  59. Jolyon Culbertson
    November 23, 2023

    When a major company sees its staff and other costs rising over time without better or comparable output there comes a time when some fairly tough, not to say brutal, action must be taken to ‘right the ship’. With taxes at record highs even after recent reductions, with debt interest rising as a proportion of expenses, with gross debt almost touching 100% of GDP, with balance of payments so negative the value of the pound is vulnerable , with civil service numbers ballooning but productivity declining substantially, then the alarm bells should be ringing loud and clear. What to do? Reduce expenses substantially. The Government needs to decide how to do that. Probably the only practical ways include :1. Reduce government involvement in as many things as possible. Set broad targets for reduction of Government personel (in excess of 10%) in every department ( I would except Defence, but even here some administrative processes could be improved). Cut the number of Quangos and reduce their expense by at least 50% 2. Simply do not provide some ‘services’ which are ‘nice to have’ but not essential. 3 Take immediate action to remove the huge burden of illegal immigration 4. manage the Treasury relationship with the bank of England to avoid huge losses on bond purchases/sales. It is painful to recover a healthy position which has been allowed to become uneconomic. But ultimately there is no alternative. UK is dependent on markets that support its position. Markets will not maintain such support if action is left to the next generation. The time is now.

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