TORY austerity could push the Civil Service to breaking point as it struggles with the extra work of delivering Brexit, research published today shows.
A report by the Institute for Government (IfG) and the UK in a Changing Europe project said it was “inevitable” there would be increased spending in departments facing huge increases in workload once Britain leaves the EU.
The report said: “The amount of work is such that reprioritisation [sic] alone will not work — it appears inevitable that the government will have to revise the spending plans of departments such as Defra and the Home Office.
“The fact that key affected departments are already recruiting shows that they must have been given indications that they will not be held to the administrative savings agreed in the pre-Brexit spending review.”
But Chancellor Philip Hammond’s Budget last week nominally gave departments extra cash, however as increases would be below the rate of inflation, they face real-terms cuts.
IfG programme director Jill Rutter said pressure on the Civil Service will intensify once Prime Minister Theresa May has triggered Article 50, saying: “With limited time and capacity, the pressure on ministers and the civil servants supporting them will increase.”
And a spokesman for Civil Service union PCS said: “The pressure on the Civil Service is immense after almost seven years of austerity.
“The government urgently needs to reverse the cuts and invest in staff and resources.”
MPs are set to vote on peers’ amendments to the Brexit Bill today, which would guarantee protections for EU nationals living in Britain and give Parliament a “meaningful” vote on the deal.
Up to 10 Tory MPs, including former ministers Ken Clarke and Nicky Morgan, could rebel to try and force concessions from the government.
But Communist Party general secretary Robert Griffiths said: “The people are sovereign — not MPs, Lords, Supreme Court judges or big business CEOs.
“The attempts to sabotage the decision of the people to leave the EU should stop and Article 50 triggered without further delay.”
Shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer and Baroness Smith, shadow leader of the Lords, wrote a joint letter to the Prime Minister over the weekend outlining their concerns that the government “will simply ignore these amendments and seek to delete them from the Bill.”
Mr Starmer will also appear at a public meeting at St Paul’s Church in St Albans tomorrow at 8pm, to set out his vision for Brexit and the future of Britain outside the EU.
• Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn will appear at an emergency demonstration tonight organised by the NUS, Momentum and the People’s Assembly to secure the legal rights of EU citizens in Britain.
The demonstration, starting outside Parliament at 5.30pm, will call on the government not to use people’s lives as “bargaining chips” in the Brexit negotiations.