Civil servant workforce increases in the Scottish Borders

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Civil servant workforce swells in the Scottish Borders following referendum, as union warns of “chaotic” Brexit planning.

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 440 people employed by the civil service in the Scottish Borders areas at the end of March this year.

This was an increase of 5 per cent compared to March 2016 – just before the referendum – when there were 420.

Civil servants are those who work for government departments, agencies, and non-departmental public bodies, such as the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

It does not include people who work for local councils, or in public bodies such as the police or NHS.

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.”

Local civil service statistics are published at NUTS level, a geographical unit determined by the EU, of which the Scottish Borders is one.

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.”

A Cabinet Office spokesman said: “The civil service is delivering this Government’s commitment to leave the EU.

“To do this, we are equipping ourselves with the right people and skills across government to make this happen.

“At the same time, the civil service continues to make sure that all of the priorities of the Prime Minister are being delivered.”