Why are we employing more and more civil servants?

The State was shrinking, but civil servant numbers have now risen by 23% in the last six years

Montage © Facts4EU.Org

Facts4EU.Org summarises the latest public sector employment figures from the ONS

According to data released by the Office for National Statistics last week, the state has been growing again, after many years of falls.

The total number of public sector workers has increased by 252,000 (4.6%) since 2016. More alarmingly, the number of Civil Servants employed by Government has jumped by 23.1% in the last six years.

In this report Facts4EU.Org punches the numbers and questions why the State is growing when many employers in the private sector are having to look hard at their headcounts.

Brexit Facts4EU.Org Summary

The State is growing again – the numbers since 2016

1. The Civil Service

  • June 2016 : 416,000
  • June 2022 : 512,000
  • Increase: +23.1%

© Brexit Facts4EU.Org 2022 - click to enlarge

2. Overall headcount of public sector workers

  • June 2016 : 5,487,000
  • June 2022 : 5,739,000
  • Increase: 4.6%

© Brexit Facts4EU.Org 2022 - click to enlarge

Source: All data from the ONS.

Let’s start with the Civil Service

There were 512,000 employees in the Civil Service in June 2022, 14,000 (2.8%) more than for the previous June. Employment in the Civil Service is now an astonishing 23.1% above its June 2016 level of 416,000.

The ONS offers no explanation for this extraordinary growth.

Total public sector employment

Once again the total numbers employed in the public sector grew again in the last quarter.

There were an estimated 5.74 million employees in the public sector for June 2022, which was 66,000 (1.2%) more than for the previous June and over a quarter of a million (252,000 – or 4.6%) more than six years ago. The ONS say the increase in the last year is “largely because of the ongoing response of the NHS and the Civil Service to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic”.

Of this 5.74 million, employment in central government was an estimated 3.55 million for June 2022, a rise of 75,000 (2.2%) compared with June the previous year. The ONS gives the reasons as being “the NHS, the Civil Service and local authority schools becoming academies”.

How much of this increase is accounted for by the NHS?

The NHS employed an estimated 1.88 million people in June 2022, an increase of 36,000 (2.0%) compared with June 2021. The ONS says that the ongoing response to the coronavirus pandemic has driven the increase on the previous year.

Compared to six years ago, the NHS has grown by 291,000 (+18.3%) in terms of its headcount.


It is a truism that - unless checked – government departments and local government organisations have a tendency to want to grow.

We know many readers are concerned about the increasing intrusion of the State in their daily lives. They also worry about matters such as public authorities employing ‘Diversity and Inclusion Managers’ on salaries in excess of £50,000 per annum.

Given that civil servants are refusing to return to their offices, we would remind them that factory workers, shop workers, and many others do not have this option. Civil servants should now be back at their desks.

Cut 'management' to pay for more essential services

There are some areas where an increased headcount is called for. For example the provision of care for our increasing numbers of the elderly in the population. This could easily be paid for if an axe were taken to the plethora of management layers in the health service. We also believe that a similar approach could be taken to parts of the Civil Service.

In an increasingly competitive world one thing is sure: Brexit Britain needs to be lean and mean – and that includes the public sector.

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[ Sources: Office for National Statistics ] Politicians and journalists can contact us for details, as ever.

Brexit Facts4EU.Org, Sat 17 Sept 2022

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