Jonathan Aitken – Smallest Civil Service for 55 Years

Below is the text of a news release issued by HM Treasury on 30th November 1994 (reference 141/94).


Treasury Chief Secretary Jonathan Aitken emphasised today the Government’s commitment to providing the taxpayer with better services that cost less and announced further reductions in the size of the Civil Service.

He said “The new plans announced in yesterday’s Budget represent a 10 per cent reduction in real terms in the costs of running central Government between 1993-94 and 1997-98. The public sector is increasing its efficiency while delivering high-quality services to the taxpayer.

“The size of the civil service is falling, too. There are 10,000 fewer civil servants now than in April, and numbers have fallen by 40,000 since the last election. The Civil Service is now at its smallest since 1939. The plans announced in the Budget will ensure that this trend carries on.

“Service to the public is our priority: but we can serve people’s needs without squeezing their pockets. The Government’s programme of Fundamental Expenditure Reviews are covering the whole of Whitehall and improving the cost-effective delivery of front-line services on all fronts. The Defence Costs Study at MoD, which I oversaw, produced annual savings of Pounds 750 million and actually enhanced operational capability. Today the Customs and Excise is announcing the results of its Fundamental Review, which has identified cuts of 4,000 posts by the end of the decade; the NHS will reduce bureaucracy in its HQ and in intermediate layers of management by 21 per cent; the Department of Transport is increasing its efficiency by a fifth; and the Treasury itself is consulting on the recommendations of its Fundamental Review, which could lead to savings in senior posts of more than a quarter, while improving its performance as an economics ministry.

“Running costs spending is being planned and controlled more sensibly, too. The new rules for end-year flexibility mean that Departments can now carry over unspent running costs provision from one year to the next: last-minute splurges on 31 March no longer need to happen.

“July’s Civil Service White Paper forecast that Civil Service numbers could fall significantly below 500,000 in the next four years. The Budget plans for increasing efficiency in the public service put us well on course to achieve that.”

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