Conservative MPs seek debate on civil service HR after Treasury bullying claims

The Conservatives have called for a debate on HR management in Whitehall departments following a damning report into staff morale at the Treasury.

A leaked report last month suggested a culture of bullying and harassment was driving staff out of the Treasury. It found that one in 10 civil servants working for chancellor Gordon Brown had left his department in the past eight months, while two-thirds quit in the past two years.

Workers cited low morale, dissatisfaction and boredom as their main reasons for leaving the department. One in 10 said ‘harassment or bullying’ played a part in their resignation.

The report also showed that more people left Brown’s ministerial services team than any other section of the department.

Speaking in the Commons, Theresa May, shadow leader of the House of Commons, pressed her Labour counterpart Jack Straw for a debate on “personnel management in government departments”. She said the report showed there were “serious problems” at the Treasury under the chancellor’s stewardship.

In response, Straw said: “All that I can say is that the Treasury has unquestionably been one of the most successful government departments in the past 10 years, as shown by the government’s highly successful ability to deliver on the economy.”

Last week, another leaked document provided further ammunition for critics who believe that Whitehall HR is not up to scratch. A survey of 2,985 senior civil servants revealed that just half believed their department was well managed, and only one in five thought poor performance was dealt with effectively.

More capability reviews in store

Cabinet secretary Sir Gus O’Donnell has announced that three more departments are to undergo capability reviews: the Crown Prosecution Service, the Department of Health, and the Department for Transport. The reviews consider capability in the Civil Service in three key areas: leadership, strategy and delivery. The Treasury has yet to be scrutinised by O’Donnell’s review teams. 

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