Over 90,000 civil servants in UK may get the axe

Prime Minister Johnson reportedly wants to free up cash for tax cuts

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Thursday ordered cabinet ministers to significantly reduce departmental staffing levels in a push to lower government spending. According to media reports, the PM has set out plans to terminate up to 90,000 civil servants, which is equivalent to a fifth of Whitehall.

Johnson told the Daily Mail that reducing the headcount would generate savings that could be deployed to help the general public. “We have got to cut the cost of government to reduce the cost of living,” he said. “Every pound the government pre-empts from the taxpayer is money they can spend on their own priorities, on their own lives.”

Johnson has ordered ministers to prepare proposals for job cuts for their departments within a month.

“The PM and ministers are clear that the civil service does an outstanding job delivering for the public and driving progress on the government’s priorities,” a government spokesperson was quoted by the Financial Times as saying. “But when people and businesses across the country are facing rising costs, the public rightly expect their government to lead by example and run as efficiently as possible.”

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The FT revealed in December that the British government had been developing plans to cut the size of the civil service by 49,000 workers, returning it to its pre-pandemic level. The new plan to axe 90,000 jobs would take the size of Whitehall back to its level before the 2016 Brexit vote and save about £3.5 billion (over $4 billion) a year.

London has vowed to focus on economic growth in order to address the country’s spiraling cost of living crisis. This month, the Bank of England issued a dire warning, saying that Britons would suffer a “historic” shock to their incomes as it expects the record-high inflation to continue. The central bank also said that the cost-of-living crisis could plunge the economy into recession this year.

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