Ministers have provoked a fresh row with unions for progressing with plans to cut civil servants’ redundancy pay, while aiming to shed 91,000 jobs in Whitehall.
A Cabinet Office consultation document published on Monday estimates that the proposed changes could cut the average exit package by more than a quarter.
The plans come as Jacob Rees-Mogg, the minister for government efficiency, works on a target of shrinking the Civil Service by a fifth.
A previous attempt by the Government to cut redundancy pay was blocked in the courts in 2017, and unions vowed to fight against the new plans.
‘Government wants to get job cuts done on the cheap’
Mark Serwotka, the general secretary of the PCS union, said: “Coming on top of a derisory two per cent pay offer and the threat of 91,000 job cuts, these proposed cuts to our members’ redundancy terms add insult to injury.
“It’s clear the Government wants to get job cuts done on the cheap.
“PCS will fight these proposals as we did in 2017, when we successfully persuaded the high court to overturn the Government’s previous attempts to rip up our members’ redundancy rights.”
The PCS, which represents around 180,000 civil service staff, was already planning to ballot members for strikes over pay, pensions and jobs.
The consultation document says the latest proposal could “create significant savings on the current cost of exits”.
Measures to achieve this include limiting payments to three weeks’ pay per year of service, up to an 18-month cap, and capping compulsory redundancy at nine months’ salary.
‘Reforming the scheme is a longstanding policy’
A Cabinet Office spokesman said: “In the context of high national debt and increasing cost pressures, it’s vital that all areas of Government spending, including the civil service compensation scheme, are affordable as well as fair to both staff and the taxpayer.
“Reforming the scheme is a longstanding policy and not connected to headcount reductions. We will continue our close engagement with unions on these proposals.”
The ultimate decision on whether to go ahead with the plans would fall to the next Tory leader and prime minister – either Liz Truss or Rishi Sunak.
Both have made commitments to reduce the cost of the Civil Service, with Mr Sunak freshly committing to reduce jobs on Monday.
Ms Truss, the Foreign Secretary, was forced to abandon an £8.8 billion plan to reduce pay outside of London after critics said it would “level down” the country.