Public sector jobs surge fuels claims of bureaucracy bloat

Mar 11 2005 by Nic Paton Print This Article

New figures on public sector employees will do little to quell controversy surrounding the types of public sector jobs being created, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development has warned.

Research by the Office for National Statistics has shown that, since the present Government has been in office, there has been a 22 per cent growth in NHS staff, 18 per cent employed in education, 13 per cent in the civil service numbers and 9 per cent rise in staff employed in public administration.

Overall, more than half a million new jobs have been created in the public sector since Labour came to power.

But the growth in public administration positions is likely to fuel concerns that the public sector is being stuffed with pen-pushers and bureaucrats.

John Philpott, CIPD chief economist, said the figures showed the public sector has accounted for at least two in five new jobs created since 1997.

“Unfortunately, however, even the improved ONS data cast little light on how many of the new jobs were for front line staff (doctors, nurses, teachers, care workers etc.) and how many so-called ‘back office’ staff,” he warned.

“While it is likely that ministers will claim that today’s figures show that most new public sector jobs will help improve service delivery, there is still ample scope for opposition politicians to argue that many of the new jobs represent bureaucrats rather than front-line workers,” he added.

The figures back research from the City last month that showed almost half the jobs created in the UK since 1997 have been in the public sector.

City broker Williams de Broë, itself drawing on the ONS’s Labour Force Survey, found that that a quarter of the UK workforce - almost 7 million people- now work for the state.

The huge increase in public sector employment is significantly larger than the decrease in the unemployment claimant count, which has fallen by 787,000 since 1997.

According to the Williams de Broë analysis, the government says it has created 144,500 new doctors, nurses, teachers, police and community support officers. But this leaves a further 716,731 jobs in other roles which they appear less willing to explain to the taxpayer.