Updated: UK civil service numbers – insights for an independent Scotland

Apologies from the Editor: I cut off half the post!

By stewartb

The Institute for Government (IfG) has just published a review of the Westminster government’s proposals to move civil service jobs out of London.  Within the IfG report there are a number of pieces of information that are worthwhile highlighting from a Scotland perspective.

Source: https://www.instituteforgovernment.org.uk/sites/default/files/publications/moving-out-civil-service-location.pdf

As background, the IfG explains: “In its March 2020 budget, the UK government committed to moving 22,000 civil service jobs out of London by the end of the decade. It will do this by moving central government jobs to other cities and towns, rather than devolving funding and decision making power.”

Some basic statistics

The IfG reports that:

  • the UK has 456,000 civil servants (- I suspect this may be posts located within the UK)
  • London has 20% of the total (91,200) and Scotland has 10% (45,600)
  • London has c.13% of the UK’s population and around two thirds of government policy makers are located in the UK’s capital
  • other civil service professions concentrated in London are economics (75%) and communications (53%). Those working on operational delivery are more likely to be outside London
  • HM Treasury (HMT) has a negligible presence outside London – “97% of its staff are in the capital (excluding those in its executive agencies)”
  • London has been the main beneficiary of the growth in civil service numbers since the EU referendum: “Staff numbers in London have grown by 17% since 2017, compared with 6.7% growth across all other regions of England”
  • even before regional pay differentials are considered, the government estimates that accommodating a civil servant in London costs more than three times as much as accommodating a regional counterpart
  • the Lyons Review of 2004 found an employment multiplier of 1.25 for the relocation of the Overseas Development Administration (ODA) to East Kilbride, i.e. one additional job was created for every four civil service jobs established in East Kilbride.

So this seems to be yet another example of where the case for the Union struggles to convince! What the Westminster governments seeks to achieve with this new policy we can achieve similar objectives and much more with independence.

(Figures 1, 2 and 3 are from Nickson et al. (2020) Moving out: Making a success of civil service relocation. Institute for Government Insight, November 2020. )

End note – the irony

The IfG lays out the objectives of the present Westminster government for its proposed move of civil service jobs out of London:

  • Firstly, it wants to reduce the distance between the government and the people, and improve the quality of government programmes by bringing civil servants closer to the people who are affected by the policies they design
    • supporters of Scotland’s independence will agree with this objective – the civil service in an independent Scotland will certainly deliver this greater proximity across all departments, including of course those involved in what are presently reserved policy areas!
  • Secondly, it wants to break what it views as the civil service’s London, ’metropolitan’ mindset
    • the civil service of an independent Scotland will most certainly deliver this for us!
  • Thirdly, the Westminster government’s proposals are also intended to contribute to ‘levelling up’ by promoting economic growth and job opportunities in deprived communities
    • the development of a civil service for the new nation state will provide substantial, new opportunities to do just this.

So this seems to be yet another example of where the case for the Union struggles to convince! What the Westminster governments seeks to achieve with this new policy we can achieve similar objectives and much more with independence.

7 thoughts on “Updated: UK civil service numbers – insights for an independent Scotland

  1. That has been the case for years. Already highlighted. Scotland pays disproportionately to support and fund high earning jobs in London S/E in Government. £Billions for Westminster bureaucracy. It has been know in academia for years. The statistics and calculations, under investigation. Research. Education benefits.

    Same as the military Scotland pays disproportionately for the military which is not based in Scotland. £1Billion. UK military spend £50Billion but essential services are cut. Tax evasion is rife. Westminster mismanagement costing Scotland dear. Then Scotland has to pay for it disproportionately to keep jobs in the South. Extravagant London HQ’s etc. Instead of being based in Scotland.

    Scotland has to make loan repayments on monies not borrowed or spent in Scotland. Scotland cannot borrow monies which invested in Scotland would pay for itself in growth. Scotland pays disproportionately for Hinkley Point, HS2, Trident etc. A total waste of public money with far better, cheaper, cleaner alternatives. Scotland pays more for fuel and energy. Despite being in surplus and nearer the source.

    It all adds up to £Billions going south. Disproportionately. The illegal Barnett Formula. Instigated in the 1980’s to take revenues and resources out of Scotland. It had been going in for years. Kept secret under the Official Secrets Act. Thatcher. The McCrone Report kept secret for 30 years. Illegal corruption. The Westminster unionist Gov. Vote Tory/unionist to die younger. Lower life expectancy. The list is endless.

    The Westminster Gov claimed it could not keep separate accounts for Scotland. Tried to hide the fraud. A click on a computer now. Estimation. The total mismanagement and poor decisions of Westminster Gov have cost Scotland dear.

    Illegal wars, tax evasion and financial fraud have cost Scotland £Billions. Kept secret under the Official Secrets Act. Westminster unionist corruption of lies and fraud.

    Iraq, Dunblane and Lockerbie kept secret for 100 years.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. The oil wealth removed from Scotland amounts to £trillions over the past 40/50+ years, it’s bloody tragic that so many lived and died in poverty meanwhile, and that foodbanks are an actual reality now, in 2020 , EngGov are absolute criminals.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Don’t civil servants work for the UKgov in Engand no matter where they are based. Scotland seems to have plenty of them already, and with the 2k more moving into their brand new offices in the centre of Edinburgh, even more of them working for the EngGov, in Scotland.
    Wonder where they will all go once Scotland is independent, I suppose they could work for the Scottish civil service, either that or be recalled! That would free up a few mini mansions for the locals!
    That report talks about ‘regions’, which is how the EngGov likes to refer to Scotland, they hate saying country, but lower themselves to call Scotland a ‘nation’ when forced to.
    I just can’t see anyone from London wanting to take up a CS job say, in Grimsby, to save the EngGov a few quid!


    1. I’d like to think that locals in the lower grades – say up to EO – would get to keep their jobs. Maybe those promoted to HEO. After that, anyone else, especially if seconded from anywhere else, could either be recalled and reallocated to another part of the WM admin system.

      It’d free up a few, or create new, jobs in Scotland too.


    2. You’re right Arty: all civil servants in Scotland are employed by Whitehall, which immediately raises questions about allegiance. While I’m sure some among them have Scotland’s interests at heart, but their route to career advancement depends significantly on approval by Whitehall. We only need to look back to 2014 when a number of civil servants based in Scotland received awards at a ceremony in London for their services to the Union during the Indyref to see how that works.

      Before independence, serious planning will be necessary to ensure that an independent Scotland can have a truly independent civil service and not a fifth column for UK Gov, GCHQ, MI5 etc.


  3. UK civil servants are working in Scotland but Scotland is paying for it. They are often working against Scotland and against the Scottish Gov. Costing even more Scottish taxpayers monies.

    Scotland has to pay a disproportionate share of Westminster bureaucracy even though the jobs are based in London. The North/South divide. Scottish Gov is far more economical. No HoL etc.


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