Whitehall is facing the prospect of having to shed as many as 100,000 jobs over the next five years, the union representing senior civil servants has said.
The head of the FDA, Dave Penman, said he expected the Conservative government to continue primarily targeting staffing levels as it makes yet more swingeing cuts to public spending, leading to an even greater round of public sector job cuts than those under the coalition.
He said that, according to the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR)’s analysis of the chancellor’s autumn statement, only 40% of the total cuts expected between the election of the coalition government in 2010 and the next general election in 2020 had been made.
Those cuts had come at the cost of around 80,000 jobs, Penman said, leading him to believe that the remaining 60% would cost a further 100,000.
“The DWP could lose 20,000 to 30,000 staff, the HMRC could lose 10,000 to 15,000 … it is greater cuts than over the last five years and most of that is based around staffing, so it is not surprising.
“That is what the civil service is expecting, it is certainly what we are expecting. We are back to the 1930s level of spending.”
The former cabinet office minister Francis Maude led a round of job losses over the last parliament, prompting the Public and Commercial Services Union to accuse him of showing “enthusiasm for cutting jobs”.
Penman said that he wanted the government to be honest about what it could deliver if it went ahead with its plans to squeeze the civil service. “We are saying you need to match commitments with resources – you can’t just cut that amount, then say ‘get on with it’.”
But he said that the FDA could not stop “an elected government from cutting the size of the civil service when they have been elected to do so”.
A Cabinet Office spokesman said: “The minister will set out his priorities for this parliament in due course. Anything else at this stage, one week into his tenure, is purely speculation but all is working well so far and we have a strong, cohesive centre.”