Fife misses out on civil service Brexit jobs boom

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Fife has missed out on a jobs boost on the back of the Brexit referendum.

The region, along with Clackmannanshire and Fife has seen virtually no change in the number of civil servants working locally, despite their ranks swelling by tens of thousands elsewhere in the country.

It comes as a leading public sector union has called for an urgent meeting with the Government, to discuss the impact of no-deal planning on civil servants across the country.

Figures released by the Cabinet Office show there were 1400 people employed by the civil service in the two regions at the end of March.

This was a decrease of three per cent compared to March 2016 – just before the referendum – when there were 1440.

This covers people working for government departments, agencies, and non-departmental public bodies, such as the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

It excludes anyone employed by local councils, or in public bodies such as the police or NHS.

Civil servant numbers have soared across the UK since 2016, with more than 445,000 now employed – including 4,860 deployed overseas.

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That’s an increase of almost 27,000 in just three years.

A spokesman for the Cabinet Office said the increase could be for a number of reasons, with the cross-departmental nature of the civil service meaning it is difficult to determine if people had been recruited specifically for Brexit planning.

However, the Institute for Government think tank said recent trends in recruitment – particularly outside of London – showed signs of Brexit preparations.

“The largest increases in the first three months of 2019 were at the Home Office and HMRC – two large departments that are more evenly spread across the UK, which will be key in delivering changes to how the UK border operates after Brexit,” a spokesman said.

“This suggests that the focus of Brexit recruitment is starting to shift from policy to operations.”

The civil service headcount in Clackmannanshire and Fife had been falling prior to the Brexit referendum – in 2014, it stood at 1690, dropping to 1,570 in 2015.

Of the 168 geographical NUTS areas in Great Britain, 70 have seen an increase in civil service employees since 2016 – only four of which are in London.

A spokesman for the Public and Commercial Services Union, which represents civil servants, said its members were concerned about the impact of Brexit on job changes and workloads.

He said: “PCS has consistently criticised the lack of planning for Brexit over the last three years, and called for extra resources to be made available in the civil service to carry out the work needed to deliver Brexit.

“Staff have been redeployed to departments that are suffering from staff shortages because of their Brexit workloads.

“Planning has been far too last minute and chaotic.”