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How the UK civil service has changed in 10 charts

By DPF Admin19th November 2015August 6th, 2019Area Updates, Latest News, Northern Updates, Southern Updates

The civil service is at its smallest since the second world war – and since 2010 its workforce has become older and more concentrated in London.

Ahead of the 2010 spending review, there were nearly 480,000 full-time civil servants, while in March 2015 there were just more than 406,000, according to the Institute for Government’s annual Whitehall Monitor report released on Thursday.

Image: Institute for Government

To put these figures in context, percentage-wise the reductions in the civil service since 2010 have been deeper than in other parts of the public sector (such as the police), but not as deep as in the armed forces or local government.

Image: Institute for Government

However, despite the 15% reduction in numbers, the government had expected the civil service to be operating with even fewer staff by now, a stark illustration of how difficult any further cuts are likely to be.

Image: Institute for Government

Some departments have undergone deeper reductions than others. Communities and local government, work and pensions (DWP), and culture, media and sport have had the biggest staff reductions, of more than 30%. Three departments – energy and climate change, international development, and the Cabinet Office – have actually grown since 2010.

Image: Institute for Government

Five departments – work and pensions, the Ministry of Justice, revenue and customs, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and the Home Office – employ nearly three-quarters of all civil servants.

Staff reductions mean the civil service is now older than it was five years ago – 40% of civil servants are more than 50 years old.

Image: Institute for Government

The civil service is now more concentrated in senior grades as junior roles have seen the biggest cuts.

Image: Institute for Government

Just less than 40% of the senior civil service is now female, compared with 34% in 2010. However, this does not reflect the greater number of women than men at more junior grades.

Image: Institute for Government

In the department for communities and local government, and the culture department, 50% of the senior civil servants are women, up from 38% and 40% respectively in 2010. The Foreign Office and the MoD have the smallest proportion of women (26% and 27%), although both have increased since 2010 (when they were at 21% and 20% respectively).

Image: Institute for Government

In terms of ethnic diversity, 11% of civil servants are from a minority ethnic background, compared with 9% in 2010 and just 4% in 1988. This is still less than the ethnic diversity of the general UK population though, which was 14% at the 2011 census.

According to research by the National Audit Office, the cost of annualised civil service staff salaries fell by £2.49bn (or 18%) between 2010 and 2014.

However, at the same time as most departments are reducing salary costs and the number of civil servants, some have increased the number of non-payroll staff they employ.

Image: Institute for Government

It should also be noted that the number of special advisers rose from 63 to 107 over the course of the last parliament.

As part of its savings, the government has also reduced its office space, which has meant that civil servants in nearly all departments had less space in 2014 than in 2011, despite the headcount reductions.

On average, departments had just more than one workstation for each member of staff in 2014. Ten departments had fewer than one workstation per employee.

Image: Institute for Government

More civil servants are based in London than in any other UK region – 18% of the total, an increase from 16% in 2010. The east Midlands hosts the fewest. In both Scotland and Wales, UK government departments employ more civil servants than the devolved administrations.

The greatest reduction in staff numbers has been in the north-west, which has seen its workforce fall by more than 13,000 in the past five years. The DWP alone employs 8,500 fewer staff in the region in 2015 compared with 2010.

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