Boris Johnson ordered ministers to cut public service by a fifth to free billions for tax cuts.
Prime Minister used »cost of livingA cabinet meeting was held in the Midlands yesterday to order its top team to redouble its efforts to ease financial pressure on struggling families.
Mr Johnson told the Daily Mail: “We need to cut government spending to lower the cost of living.”
He said that during the pandemic, the civil service “swelled” and more than 90,000 jobs had to be lost.
And he suggested that the billions saved could be used to reduce taxes, saying, “Every pound the government buys from taxpayers is money they can spend on their own priorities, on their own lives.”
The minister was given a month to work out plans to reduce the number of civil servants by 91,000 – almost a fifth of the current one.
The move would save around £ 3.5 billion a year by freeing up resources to help reduce the cost of living by lowering taxes or other measures.
From left to right: Education Minister Nadhim Zahavi, International Trade Minister Anne Marie Trevelyan, Health Minister Sajid Javid, Cabinet Secretary Simon Case, Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Finance Chancellor Rishi Sunak during a regional cabinet meeting in Middleport Pottery. on Trent on Thursday
Secretary of State for Brexit and Government Effectiveness Jacob Reese-Mogh Arrives at Cabinet Meeting on Thursday
Photo by Jacob Reese-Mog showing the ministry’s empty office as civil servants continue to work from home
Prime Minister Steve Barclay’s chief of staff is also exploring plans to use new technologies, including artificial intelligence systems, to increase the efficiency of agencies such as the Passport Office and DVLA.
Mr Johnson said the public “deserves better” from organizations that have allowed to accumulate huge backlogs.
And he is still convinced of the need to return more officials for their jobs, adding: “We need to return to the habit of going to the office, to get to work.
“There will be a lot of people who disagree with me, but I believe that people are more productive, more energetic, more full of ideas when they are surrounded by other people.”
But the prime minister said technology should also play an important role in improving efficiency – and potentially reducing the cost of official documents such as passports. “I’m not an antediluvian in technology,” he said.
“Things like Zoom and Teams can increase productivity, not just be an excuse for people to stay home.
“We have to ask ourselves why a passport costs so much? Often this is because over the years the cost has increased to support the costs of the organization that provides them.
“What is the main factor in these costs? State. If we can do more with AI … potentially it could be cheaper. ”
The move will lead ministers into a confrontation with powerful civil service unions, which are already bitterly complaining about the government’s desire to persuade thousands of employees to return to their jobs after the pandemic.
Yesterday, there were new calls for Risha Sunaka to cut taxes after official figures showed the economy had unexpectedly shrunk by 0.1 percent in March – even before the last round of energy prices last month.
On Thursday, Mr Johnson chaired a cabinet meeting at which he ordered his top team to redouble its efforts to ease financial pressure on the family.
NatWest Chairman Sir Howard Davis called on ministers to focus on helping the worst families, noting that the poorest fifth of the population will have to cut their insignificant spending by 20 per cent.
Meanwhile, Mr Johnson, following Chancellor Mr Sunak, said he would consider imposing an income tax on energy giants to help families in need.
BP tried to stop the pressure over such a fee by announcing that it would reinvest all its profits from North Sea oil and gas over the next decade back to the UK.
The Prime Minister’s plan to reduce the number of civil servants comes at a time when ministers are battling Whitehall’s so-called “drops” on a number of issues, including Brexit.
A source in the government said that the civil service became inflated during the pandemic and should be reduced.
The source said it was right that the government was making new efforts to tighten their belts just as businesses and families are doing.
“All businesses are looking for ways to cut costs and increase productivity, and the government should be no different,” the source said.
“We have seen that since 2016 the number of civil servants has increased by 90,000 people. Much was related to the pandemic, and at the time it was right.
“But we have already passed the pandemic, and we cannot allow this great state to become a new normal – we need to return to the level of the pandemic.
The Prime Minister said that during the pandemic, the civil service became “swollen”, and more than 90,000 jobs had to be left
Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a tour of China’s Churchill factory in Stoke-on-Trent on Thursday
“It will save a significant amount of money by freeing up resources that can be used to help people with the cost of living.”
The current number of civil servants is 475,000, the highest level since 2010. Ministers were given two years to cut that total by 91,000.
Downing Street declined to name an estimate of the savings, but the average civil servant earns £ 28,100, and other costs, such as national insurance and pensions, add about £ 10,000 to the payroll.
Based on these figures, the reduction of 91,000 jobs will save about £ 3.5 billion a year.
Government sources said that initially the ministers would focus on reducing the number due to “natural waste”, such as freezing employment.
But Jacob Reese-Mogh warned the cabinet yesterday that a forced dismissal may be needed.
He said the cut would return the civil service to the level it was ten years ago, adding: “It was done earlier and it can be done again.”
Mr Reese-Mog, Minister for Government Effectiveness, outlined plans by the Cabinet yesterday when ministers met in Stoke-on-Trent to discuss ways to speed up action to combat the cost of living.
He said that, according to current forecasts, the civil service should expand in the next three years, “despite the demands of Brexit and the pandemic, which are now retreating.”
Ministers were informed that between 30,000 and 40,000 civil servants leave each year, which means that a significant reduction can be achieved by freezing employment.