TUC report challenges myths about public sector

The TUC is challenging the opinion that public services are full of ‘bowler hats and bureaucrats’ and that job cuts can be made without there being a negative impact on public services.

A new TUC report published today shows that the public sector operates with far fewer managers than the private sector.

In Bowler hats and bureaucrats – myths about the public sector workforce, the TUC rejects claims by politicians that big savings can be made by axing thousands of civil service and other public sector managerial posts, and that this would deliver services more efficiently.

By analysing official statistics, the TUC found that while private sector managers are responsible for six staff on average, in the public sector managers look after an average of 14 staff.

And according to the Office for National Statistics’ Labour Force Survey, the private sector’s three million managers are responsible for 17.5 million members of staff. This means that almost a fifth (17.5%) of employees in the private sector are managers, compared to 7.5% in the public sector, which has just 500,000 managers on its payroll, in charge of around 6.8 million workers.

The government’s Gershon Efficiency Review identified £20bn in possible cuts that could be made to the civil service, which would see 70,000 jobs going from central government departments.

However, the TUC report estimates that savings of some £18bn could be made in public procurement and through the better use of technology, without having to cut a single post.

TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: “Public servants have become easy targets for some politicians. They want us to believe two things about the public services that are both wrong. First, that you can make easy cuts to management and bureaucrats, without having any effect on public service delivery. Second, that there is an easy distinction between frontline staff who are all wonderful, and backroom staff who are a drag on the system.”

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