Chancellor announces Civil Service Numbers Cap, capping headcount at current level, which could save up to £1 billion, with focus on a leaner and more effective workforce
government departments to submit long-term productivity plans that modernise the Civil Service and reduce the size of the state – delivering high-quality public services at a lower cost
equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) spending in the Civil Service to be reviewed to ensure it represents value for money for the taxpayer
The Civil Service workforce has grown year on year since 2016, with headcount as of June 2023 around 488,000. While this has enabled an effective response to the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic, further unabated growth would not be fair to taxpayers or promote the efficiency they expect.
A cap on headcount at its current level will be introduced with immediate effect – a decision that will help cut the cost of government and could save up to £1 billion by March 2025 compared to the current trajectory.
The cap - which will be in place for the duration of the current Spending Review period - does not equate to a recruitment freeze, and current recruitment campaigns will remain ongoing.
To go further after the current Spending Review period, government departments will be asked to produce plans on driving down headcount over the long-term to pre-pandemic levels, as part of the Public Sector Productivity Programme being carried out by the Chief Secretary to the Treasury.
A first-time value for money audit of EDI spending in the Civil Service will also separately inform the productivity review, with the findings and actions to be announced by the Chancellor in the Autumn.
Through tackling unnecessary bureaucracy and improved use of technology, it is expected that the Civil Service will become more productive and act as a lean, agile, and cost-effective organisation, in line with the people’s priorities.
Departmental plans are expected to include detail on how departments will utilise modern technology to drive efficiencies and deliver better services for the public at lower costs – across both the Civil Service and the wider public sector. This process will also prioritise the protection of critical frontline services.