MHCLG could be merged into a new ‘mega-ministry’ under mooted government plans to save billions.
Reports today (3rd Jan) suggest such a ministry could be made up of MHCLG, the Department for Transport and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to focus on major infrastructure projects.
The reports also pitch Departments for International Development, Exiting the EU and International Trade into the Foreign Office.
Already, the Institute for Government has warned setting up new departments – considered in the context of the spending review – can incur huge costs.
According to PoliticsHome, the initiative is driven by “Treasury insiders” who says the 25 Whitehall departments could be cut down without affecting government output.
They cite the government of the USA as having just 15 departments.
A reduction risks resistance from the civil service unions given the huge number of jobs likely to be at stake.
Mark Serwotka, general secretary of the PCS union, said: “If there is a merger of government departments we would expect our members to be fully consulted. PCS will oppose any attempt to cut jobs or lower terms and conditions if there are any mergers.
“Ministers should be putting their energies into giving civil servants and those in related areas a pay rise and investing properly in government departments.”
Dave Penman, general secretary of the FDA union for senior officials, accused the Treasury of “kindergarten economics” in believing significant sums can be saved simply by merging departments.
“Unless government changes what it does, or does less – both of which require significant policy development – changing the nameplate on the front door of a department is no panacea to delivering efficiencies,” said Penman.
“Indeed, every machinery of government change comes with the inevitable costs of merging IT systems and back office functions and creates months of distraction at a time when we need the civil service focused on the job in hand like never before.
“Instead of dreaming up easy headlines that the grass is greener in the USA or Singapore, ministers should be focusing on ensuring that the civil service is provided with the resources and skills it needs to face the biggest challenge it’s been given since the Second World War,” he said.