Tory war on civil service fats cats with pledge to slash public sector

Thousands of jobs must be axed from Scotland’s ‘bloated’ civil service to fund investment in public services and tax cuts, the Scottish Conservatives will propose in their General Election manifesto.

The party will pledge to reverse the massive increase in the size of the Scottish Government workforce when it unveils its manifesto on Monday.

It will propose cutting more than 10,000 jobs to bring the civil service back to levels seen in 2017, which would save taxpayers £680million a year.

The savings would be used to pay for extra police officers and GPs and to deliver tax cuts for hard-working Scots.

tory war on civil service fats cats with pledge to slash public sector

The Scottish Conservatives said cuts to public sector would help them fund more police officer

It could also help a mass shift in employment from the public sector to the private sector, helping firms who are facing a recruitment crisis amid concerns about a shortage of workers.

The move would be controversial as it would probably result in thousands of civil servants facing the threat of redundancy.

Scottish Conservative chairman Craig Hoy said: ‘The SNP promised a smaller and more efficient government but the exact opposite has happened during their 17 years in office.

‘The increasingly bloated civil service has escaped SNP cuts. Instead, our overwhelmed public services are bearing the brunt of the SNP continually diverting resources towards their enlarged civil service.

‘That cannot continue. We will save taxpayers money by reducing the costs of the civil service, while also boosting the numbers working in the private sector.’

Scottish Government figures show it employed the full-time equivalent of 16,000 staff at the start of 2017, though this had soared to 26,800 by the first quarter of 2024.

The Conservatives want to reduce staffing back to 2017 levels, meaning the loss of 10,800 jobs.

Although some would be cut through natural wastage, the scale of the reduction would make redundancies inevitable.

tory war on civil service fats cats with pledge to slash public sector

Scottish Conservative chairman Craig Hoy said the party's plan would help boost numbers working in the private sector

The manifesto, which will be launched by Rishi Sunak and Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross on Monday, will state: ‘Over recent years, the size of the devolved civil service has grown faster than the workforce of our NHS or local government. At Holyrood, we would reduce the size of the devolved civil service to save money and increase the private sector workforce.’

The Scottish Tories plan to use the money raised from the staffing cuts to fund tax cuts and increased spending on public services.

The party has pledged to reduce income tax when it is affordable so Scots workers do not pay more than people south of the Border. It would also use the money saved to fund 1,000 more police officers and 1,000 more GPs.

Last month the Scottish Government set out a public sector pay policy which includes a 9.3 per cent uplift over three years – but warned spending may need to be cut in other areas to pay for it.

It said the proposed pay rises are above forecast inflation rates over the period of 5.7 per cent.

The move would add around £250million to the £25billion Scottish public sector pay bill.

The pay policy is only intended to provide a ‘framework’ for negotiations and can be adapted during individual negotiations for particular sectors. It applies to 52,000 staff, including civil servants, quango workers and those employed in public corporations and agencies.

Hannah Bardell, SNP candidate for Livingston, said: ‘One of the major achievements this SNP Scottish Government has made is the creation of Social Security Scotland in 2018, which supports thousands of families who have suffered as a result of Westminster failures – would the Tories want to see this vital funding scrapped?’

Meanwhile, John Swinney will today claim his party can rid rural Scotland of every Tory MP.

Ahead of a visit to the Royal Highland Show, the SNP leader said: ‘You can’t claim to back rural Scotland and back Brexit.

‘During the last Westminster election, the Tories in rural Scotland shamefully sold Boris Johnson’s Brexit, making promise after promise and every single one has been broken.

‘Those Tory MPs now deserve to face the democratic consequences of that Brexit betrayal and the SNP are the main challengers in every Tory held seat.’

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