The number of full-time equivalent (FTE) civil servants has increased by nearly 20% since the headcount control mechanism was scrapped.
Recent figures revealed that, from March 31, 2016, the number of FTE civil servants was 2,091.8, which has risen to 2,488.4 as of March 31 2023 – a 19% increase.
Last month, we reported that the number of FTE public sector staff – not just civil servants – had risen from 6,736.5 in March 2016 to 7,265.9 at the end of February 2023 – about one in six of the working population.
A written response published since our coverage provided a breakdown of FTE staff for civil servants in each department, board and office and public sector staff.
It also provided an updated figure of public sector workers 7,290.7 as of March 31, an 8% increase. The figures include civil servants and the wider public service, taking in teachers and lecturers, health and social care workers, police and firefighters.
The only departments that saw a decrease in FTE civil servants in the period were the Department for Enterprise and the Department of Health and Social Care. However, the DHSC’s figure can be put down to the creation of Manx Care in 2021 when staff were redeployed.
The number of FTE civil servants for veterans welfare service remained the same. In every other department the FTE of civil servants increased.
The Attorney General’s Office saw the largest increase in FTE civil servants, almost doubling from 41.6 to 76.9.
Other notable increases, were the Department of Education Sports and Culture, which saw a 32% increase, the Department for Environment, Food and Agriculture, which increased by 31%, and the Department of Infrastructure which saw a 27% increase.
In the second written response on the matter, the Minister for the Cabinet Office, Kate Lord-Brennan MHK, said: ‘Care should be taken when comparing department changes, which may reflect the movement of functions between departments and the implementation of shared services.’
The two written questions were asked by John Wannenburgh MHK, with his first written question asking Ms Lord Brennan what consideration has been given to restoring the headcount control mechanism, which was in place before 2016, and the second asking for a breakdown.
The personnel control mechanism was established in 1991 in response to concerns that a 16.6% increase in the public sector workforce over the previous four years was unsustainable.
But it was abandoned amid concerns that it was open to abuse.
It was replaced from April 2015 by the employment costs budgetary control mechanism, which manages numbers based on budget allocation, which ring-fences salary costs and includes all costs such as pensions.
While a report found no evidence that the increase in headcount was as a result of abandoning the personnel control mechanism, Ms Lord-Brennan said it was intended to review this policy again in the autumn.