FDA in the media 2014

Links or notices of FDA mentions in the media from 2014

18 December

In the December issue of Civil Service World, FDA General Secretary Dave Penman is quoted in a feature covering relations between the civil service unions. Penman refers to the rights and wrongs of austerity as "meaningless in relation to what we have to do as a union - which is defend the interests of our members".

He also laments the break-up of the Council of Civil Service Unions, stating that "the lack of a credible single voice for civil service unions has damaged the influence of union members? It's made it easier for [employers] to circumvent trade unions; it's allowed the Government to disengage".

Read the full article:

Disunion in the unions
Civil Service World


4 December

FDA General Secretary Dave Penman is quoted in Civil Service World online, responding to the Chancellor's Autumn Statement published yesterday.

The union issued a press release following George Osborne's announcement that he plans to continue "to restrain public sector pay" during the next Parliament, and that "continuing to reduce departmental spending in the first two years of the next Parliament would mean at least £15 billion off Whitehall budgets".

Penman said:

"The Chancellor made it clear that for hard-working public servants, the next Parliament will feel very much like this one: further cuts in departmental spending at the same pace and a continuation of pay restraint until at least 2018, if the deficit is indeed dealt with by then.

"The Chancellor responded to the cost of living crisis by predicting that 'meaningful wage growth' will pick up next year and grow above inflation for the next five years. Yet in the same speech he excludes millions of public sector workers from that prediction.

"At a time when pay levels for senior grades in the civil service are around half those of equivalent private sector roles, the Chancellor makes clear that those tasked with delivering further cuts in public spending to balance the economy are the very people being excluded from the benefits of that success."

Read the full article:

Civil servants set to bear the brunt of Autumn Statement cuts
Civil Service World


17 November

Fiona Eadie, FDA Vice President and Secretary of the Procurator Fiscal Society Section (PFS) has been quoted in a number of newspapers throughout Scotland following written evidence submitted to the Scottish Parliament Justice Committee.

In the evidence the FDA PFS contrasts a reduced staffing budget with rising numbers of court cases, exacerbated by a significant increase in serious and complex cases.

The FDA's concern is illustrated by the increased number of cases to be prosecuted on petition which have risen by almost 20% since 2012 and the proposed staffing budget for COPFS is a real terms cut of £1.1m and will mean fewer staff to deal with this important work.

Eadie said:

"These latest budget cuts are in danger of damaging the administration of justice. Procurators Fiscal are committed professionals who want to uphold the law whilst serving the public, but this can only be achieved with adequate resourcing.

"The commitment of our members must be matched by the Government.

"Ministers need to decide to either cut workloads or increase resources - the choice is that clear."

You can read the FDA's full press release by clicking here.

Read the full coverage:

Warning on justice work cuts
The Herald

Prosecutors busier as budget falls
The Extra

Prosecutors busier as budget falls
The Courier

Prosecutors warn of rising cases as budget falls
The Scotsman

Prosecutors busier as budget falls
thesundaypost.com


24 October

A letter from FDA General Secretary Dave Penman was published in The Guardian, in response to a previous article criticising Ofsted inspectors.

In his letter, Penman stated that the union "would agree that education thrives upon trust, cooperation, participation, but dispute[s] that the culture of inspection is one of targets and terror, name and shame, compete and count. Inspection plays a critical role in driving up standards in education."

He explained that as civil servants, inspectors are "politically impartial and appointed under authority of the Crown" and that it is "time to recognise the vital work undertaken every day by these dedicated, passionate public servants who work countless unpaid hours to deliver high-quality inspections in the interest of the nation's children".

Penman concluded that perhaps there should be more examination of "politicians and commentators whose agendas are not progressed by a balanced and evidence-based debate".

Read the full letter:

Ofsted and the driving force of competition in our schools
The Guardian


21 October

The Association of Revenue and Customs (ARC) President Tony Wallace was quoted in Public Finance online, over the union's concerns that significantly higher pay in the private sector could lead to HMRC staff leaving the civil service.

ARC issued a proposal to the Chancellor ahead of the Autumn Statement, asking him to address this significant pay disparity. For more, read the union's press release.

Wallace said: "The country simply cannot afford to see such experts leave and transfer their skills to the private sector.

"The gap in salary levels now presents a real and growing risk and if the chancellor is serious in his efforts to tackle avoidance then he has to address that risk as a matter of real urgency."

Read the full article:

HMRC salary gap too wide, says ARC
Public Finance


16 October

FDA General Secretary Dave Penman has been quoted by BBC News and Civil Service World online on the announcement made by the Civil Service Commission that the Prime Minister will be given a choice of candidates for head of department appointments, which will be assessed by an independent panel chaired by the First Civil Service Commissioner.

In response Penman said:

"We broadly welcome today's announcement, balancing the argument for greater Ministerial involvement in selecting heads of department with the fundamental principle of selection on merit. Political impartiality is the cornerstone of a permanent civil service but it does not mean - and has never meant - that there can be no Ministerial involvement in the process of selection.

"The changes announced today ensure transparency in the selection process and reflect a broad political consensus. We also welcome the assurances given by the Prime Minister and the Official Opposition that they have no wish to politicise the civil service."

Read the full articles:

Whitehall reform gives PM new choice in appointments - BBC News

Prime minister to pick perm secs from shortlist - Civil Service World


20 August

FDA General Secretary Dave Penman was interviewed on BBC Radio Scotland's Good Morning Scotland programme discussing a memo issued to Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) staff by Permanent Secretary Robert Devereux, which was read by some as advising them to vote 'No' in the Scottish independence referendum.

The memo, which included guidance on the conduct of civil service business during the restricted period in the run up to the referendum, also referred to the UK Government's "clear position to maintain the union", explaining that "it is legitimate and necessary for UK civil servants to support the Government in this objective".

A DWP spokesperson said: "Of course the department has not told its staff, or anyone else, how to vote."

Penman said that while the Devereux's message was "factually correct… perhaps the tone and content of the memo has been a little ill-judged in dealing with 70,000 staff in DWP across the country.

"Like most organisations, what looks like a meaningless and anodyne comment when you're at the top of an organisation from the centre compared to what it looks like when you're on the ground is probably where they've make a bit of a mistake."

Penman also said that civil servants continuing to work for both Scottish and UK Governments despite their opposing referendum objectives "demonstrate the best of the civil service in its professionalism and its integrity, that it has dealt with what is clearly a very febrile, difficult, and at times quite emotional, political environment".

Hear the full interview:

BBC Radio Scotland's Good Morning Scotland: 20 August 2014
(Two hours, 21 minutes and 15 seconds into the programme)

Other coverage:

Penman's response was also quoted in The Independent, BBC News, The Scotsman, Civil Service World and The Herald Scotland online.


19 August

FDA National Officer for Wales, Paul Neilson, was quoted on Wales Online discussing an employment tribunal case involving the demotion of two members at the National Library of Wales, Arwel Jones and Elwyn Williams.

Neilson said: "Members of all three unions at the Library - the FDA, Prospect and PCS - are shocked at the way Arwel and Elwyn have been treated.

"Their suspension and then demotion stemmed from concerns over a procurement exercise where there were some technical breaches. The Library accepts there was no question of fraud and that no money was lost as a result of the awarding of a printing contract worth around £75,000.

"Neither Arwel nor Elwyn had been involved in organising such a procurement exercise before, and they had not been offered any appropriate training. They did the best they could, but it is accepted there were technical breaches.

"The fact that since this incident occurred other members of staff have been offered training courses in procurement suggests to us that the Library acknowledges more could have been done from a training point of view in the past."

Neilson described the demotion decision as being "extremely harsh" described the "turmoil" caused for Library staff around this issue. He also highlighted the "very serious concern about the erosion of salaries at the Library, where staff had not had a consolidated pay rise since 2009. Morale is very low and we are balloting our members for strike action."

Read the full story:

Union claims National Library of Wales in 'turmoil' on eve of high-profile employment tribunal
Wales Online

Other coverage:

The employment tribunal, including mention of the FDA's evidence, was also covered on last night's BBC Radio Wales Good Evening Wales programme (one hour, 47 minutes and 20 seconds in). 


7 August

 

FDA General Secretary Dave Penman was interviewed on the BBC's Newsnight programme, over the issue of consultants' salaries within Whitehall. A Newsnight investigation has revealed that the Government paid at least 30 consultants up to £2,000 a day during the last year.

Questioned alongside Dia Chakravarty of the Taxpayers' Alliance, Penman told presenter James O'Brien that "at times you may need to bring in expertise for a short period so any organisation, whether it's in the private sector or the public sector, has people for that particular role."

He emphasised that the discussion over consultants' salaries is "masking two key issues: one, that the Government has reduced the size of the civil service by 20% over the last four years but hasn't matched that with a reduction in demands; if anything they're asking more of civil servants, not less.

"Secondly, pay has fallen behind levels in the private sector, so they're having to bring people in to mask the problems they've got over long-term pay… Increasingly what the civil service is finding is that it can't recruit people because pay is a half, or even a third, of what it is in the private sector. The reality of it is that the Government is operating in a marketplace and when it goes out to recruit or tries to retain staff, people are going to look at salary levels elsewhere. And over a decade now it's simply fallen beyond the market.

Penman admitted that "it's tough managing big public services, and at times I think what that means is that you need to make sure you're retaining and attracting the best talent, and with that comes a price tag. That's what the Government has really has got to face up to. We absolutely agree that there should be transparency because this is masking a long-term pay problem that the Government is just closing its ears to."

Watch the full interview:

BBC Newsnight - 7 August 2014
(Six minutes 29 seconds into the programme)

The story was covered across the media, in today's Guardian, Telegraph, Mail, Independent and in the BBC News online.


23 July

Following its recent relaunch, Civil Service World has changed from a fortnightly tabloid to a monthly magazine. Each issue will include a regular column by FDA’s General Secretary Dave Penman.

In his first piece, Penman covers what civil servants might be looking for from a post-2015 Government, stating that “many civil servants feel quite bruised from their experience over the last few years. They have experienced cuts in their pay, pensions and staffing – and at the same time, unforgivably, some Ministers have been quick to question the professionalism of staff. No Chief Executive or Chair would expect to do so whilst retaining a motivated workforce, but those closest to Ministers describe being thanked in private and criticised in public”.

He states that there are “many factors undermining trust between civil servants and politicians” and confirms that “the value of the civil service's talented individuals – many of whom have dedicated their lives to serving the public good – must be recognised… Attracting talented people, and retaining those already within the civil service, is increasingly becoming a challenge.”

Penman concludes that “perhaps the biggest challenge for the next Government will be matching resources to commitments… choices need to be made between the Government's priorities and the resources allocated”.

Read the full article:

Dave Penman: speaking up for civil servants - CSW July 2014
Civil Service World


17 July

FDA Assistant General Secretary Naomi Cooke is quoted in Civil Service World online, responding to the Government’s confirmation that it will not be progressing a plan to introduce a Land Registry service delivery company. The FDA also issued a press release on this issue earlier this week.

Cooke called on the Government “to let Land Registry staff concentrate on delivering high-quality services to the public, rather than being under the constant threat of reorganisation.

“Dividing up the organisation responsible for the security of property ownership in England and Wales was a high risk and ill-conceived notion from the start,” she said. “ FDA members working in the Land Registry - as well as homeowners and tenants alike - can breathe a sigh of relief that this proposal has been ruled out for the time being.

“The FDA now calls on all parties to commit to maintaining the Land Registry as a unified civil service organisation, providing the stability it badly needs.”

Read the full article:

Government drops plans to sell off Land Registry
Civil Service World


15 July

Following Sir Bob Kerslake's announcement yesterday that he is standing down as Head of the Civil Service in the autumn and retiring as DCLG Permanent Secretary in February, the FDA issued a press release which was reported in both The Guardian and Civil Service World.

Sir Bob's announcement was made at Civil Service Live and on his own blog yesterday morning.

No. 10 made its official announcement yesterday lunchtime, indicating that the role of Head of the Civil Service would transfer back to the Cabinet Secretary and that a Chief Executive would be recruited to "lead the next phase of civil service transformation and the Government's efficiency and reform agenda".

Both The Guardian and Civil Service World report Penman's comments on the growing challenges the civil service faces, concluding that "what the civil service needs is stable and unified leadership to face up to those challenges, both in terms of its internal structure at the top and critically, between officials and Ministers."

Penman also refers to the "speculation around Sir Bob's position - and the off-the-record briefings that have accompanied it", saying that these "will have done little to reassure civil servants of politicians' and Ministers' understanding of the qualities of leadership, which MPs themselves are often so quick to accuse public servants of lacking.

"Squaring the circle of centrally-driven reform in a delegated departmental structure, and matching the ever-increasing demands with ever-reducing resources, whilst also maintaining and improving the quality services the public expects, is not a challenge for the faint hearted.

"If the new role of Chief Executive is to succeed and genuinely deliver the pace of reform that the Government says it wants, then it will need the support of Ministers in departments as well as at the Cabinet Office."

Read the full articles:

Anger over 'political' departure of civil service head Sir Bob Kerslake
The Guardian

Kerslake steps down as civil service head
Civil Service World


14 July

FDA National Officer for Wales, Paul Neilson, was quoted in an opinion piece in Wales Online. The article refers to the dismissal of Welsh Government Environment Minister Alun Davies, for putting pressure on civil servants for private information on opposition AMs (Welsh MPs).

Read the full article here.


10 July

A letter from FDA General Secretary Dave Penman features in today’s Times, responding to the newspaper’s article reporting MPs’ anger over a 2009 Cabinet Office guidance document on ‘Indicators of potential for Permanent Secretary roles’.

Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude referred to the document as “not conform[ing] with constitutional propriety”, while former Conservative Minister Nick Herbert said it was “beyond a joke”.

Penman’s response can be read in the Times online here and is also reproduced in full below:

Sir,

For most of those involved in the selection of senior leaders, the document that has so offended a number of ministers and ex-ministers will be unremarkable (“Ambitious civil servants taught to say ‘No, minister’ ”, July 8). It may be that people like to think that everything in a department is run, day to day, by the minister but this is a fiction; albeit one many politicians like to promote. Ministers can change in a heartbeat and a new agenda becomes the order of the day. A permanent secretary has to ensure the department can handle sudden change, which is only possible through long-term planning.

However, the role goes beyond managing the department; it is the role of adviser, counsellor and accounting officer, accountable to parliament for spending taxpayers’ money. What seems like a fantastic idea for the minister can have far-reaching policy and financial consequences for the department.

If, as some seek to prove, Sir Humphrey is alive and well in the corridors of power, it must also be recognised that the hapless minister Jim Hacker is equally enduring. Perhaps it’s time to put both stereotypes to bed.

Dave Penman
General Secretary, FDA

Penman’s letter is also reported in today’s Times news section:
Jim Hacker is alive and ‘haplessly trying to wield power’

The story is commented upon in today’s Financial Times editorial, and is also reported in the BBC News online and the Mail.


9 July

FDA National Officer for Wales, Paul Neilson, was quoted in the BBC News online responding to the dismissal of the Welsh Government Environment Minister Alun Davies. Davies was fired for putting pressure on civil servants for private information on opposition AMs (Welsh MPs).

Neilson said: “This is an extreme example where the behaviour was reprehensible. No Minister should ask a civil servant to do something that is in breach of the civil service code.

“Here, the civil servants acted absolutely properly. But it shows the pressure they can come under from Ministers, when they have to be neutral.”

Read the full story:

In English: Sacked minister Alun Davies's actions 'reprehensible'

Yn y Gymraeg: Ymddygiad Alun Davies yn 'resynus' medd undeb


18 June

FDA General Secretary Dave Penman was quoted in an article in Civil Service World (CSW) on the recent announcement in the Queens speech, which would mean that any civil servant who took redundancy on a wage over £100,000 would be forced to pay back some of their lump sum should they be re-employed in the same part of the public sector within a year.

Penman told CSW: "We can't see any reason or justification for why a set of terms around claw-backs should apply to people earning a certain amount of money, but not to others," he told CSW. "What is the logic behind this? It should be the same for everyone."

Read the full article here.


8 June

FDA General Secretary Dave Penman was interviewed on BBC Radio 4's The World This Weekend programme, discussing the roles of Special Advisers and Government.

Penman said: "I think it's important that we understand the essential and critical role that Special Advisers perform. They're there to provide political advice to Ministers about the conduct of Government in a way that civil servants can't, and when Special Advisers do their job properly - which the vast majority of them do - that makes for better Government.

"What we end up dealing with are the exceptions, when they go beyond what is reasonable or what is expected of them, or when Ministers effectively let them off the leash and they conduct themselves in a way that clearly is incompatible with the role, and incompatible with the wider interests of the Government."

When asked whether senior civil servants should have a role in telling Ministers when Special Advisers' behaviour is not acceptable, Penman responded: "Of course. Ultimately, running Government is also about politics. There is always going to be a tension there between civil servants, Ministers and Special Advisers. Most of the time that's a healthy tension that drives an effective Government and better policy-making…

"It's usually only when they overstep the mark that we have these sorts of stories and it's important therefore that when they do, effective action is taken quickly, because no-one usually wins as a result of this. I'm sure both Ministers involved don't feel that they've won anything as a result, it doesn't do the Government any good, it doesn't do the civil service any good and usually what happens is that people retreat and realise that they've behaved in a way that's incompatible with their roles and responsibilities, everyone licks their wounds and we get on with running Government."

Listen to the interview (3 minutes 47 seconds into the recording):


4 June

FDA General Secretary Dave Penman is included in a special Civil Service World report featuring "the great and the good across Whitehall and beyond" on the future of the civil service.

Penman joins the Government's Lead Non-Executive Director Lord Browne; former Scottish Permanent Secretary Sir John Elvidge; PASC chair Bernard Jenkin; former Government Chief Operating Officer Ian Watmore; Institute for Government Chief Executive Peter Riddell; and former Cabinet Secretaries, Lords O'Donnell, Butler and Turnbull, in sharing his views.

Penman said: "The scale of the challenge the civil service is currently facing - and will continue to face over the next Parliament - lends itself to the argument that a more strategic look at what can be expected from the civil service is needed… I struggle to see how any organisation, if it could predict its resources would shrink by 30% to 40% over a decade and yet be expected to deliver more not less, would not fundamentally look at how it was organised."

On the issue of accountability, Penman added that civil servants "need to be accountable to ministers and, where appropriate, to Parliament for their actions and performance. But like any employee, they also need the opportunity to be able to defend their actions and not be tried in public." He argued that "too often, accountability is viewed through the prism of the political and media scramble for someone to blame when something goes wrong."

Read the full article


15 May

Both the Guardian Public Leaders Network and Civil Service World published reports from the FDA’s Annual Delegate Conference.

The Guardian Public Leaders Network referred to the “Question Time-style panel organised by the FDA” and noted comments from each of the speakers:

“‘At some point in the next Parliament a storm is coming’, said Dave Penman… Labour MP and former housing Minister John Healey said that under a new Parliament in 2015, civil servants would not see any immediate changes with regard to pay. Liberal Democrat MP Sir Alan Beith agreed, saying it would take at least a couple years under a new Government to improve prospects in Whitehall… Conservative MP Richard Bacon looked forward to a future civil service, which he envisaged as much smaller but more professional, highly skilled and better paid.”

The article also quoted Penman’s opening speech, where he complained of the way civil servants are unfairly criticised by politicians of all parties, who "focus on failure and ignore success" and don't appreciate the huge demands being placed on public servants: "They want a world-class civil service and point to examples abroad but refuse to countenance salaries that are even a fraction of those in other countries".

Read the full report 

Civil Service World also quoted Penman’s speech, where he stated that “it’s about time politicians got off the backs of civil servants, recognised their value and professionalism, paid them fairly and at least attempted to match the resources allocated to the demands of Government.”

He criticised politicians who “fail to recognise the unprecedented demand being placed on the shoulders of our members, with resources cut by a third. Those who talk about matching demand to resource until they dream up a new initiative. Those who seek to blame civil servants who can’t answer back for the failures of policy rather than delivery… Those who believe that accountability means hand-picking your own team and dismissing the careers of life-long public servants on the basis of whim.”

Read the full article


4 April

The FDA issued a press release yesterday welcoming the launch of 'GovernUp' - a project to reform the relationship between the Government and the civil service, created by MPs John Healey and Nick Herbert.

FDA General Secretary Dave Penman said:

"The FDA campaign to reform the civil service has consistency decried the politicisation of the pay, reward and accountability of civil servants. Treating the civil service as a political football by Governments from all parties has left a demoralised and disaffected workforce. We therefore welcome this move to take tribal party politics out of the reform debate and instead look to a new consensus on the role of the civil service.

"In the FDA's alternative White Paper, 'Delivering for the Nation: Securing a World-Class Civil Service', we make clear that the process of reform can only really succeed if it involves those who deliver vital public services. We welcome the opportunity to engage with this new project."

Read the full press release:
FDA welcomes today's 'GovernUp' project launch

There was also a debate on civil service reform in the House of Commons yesterday afternoon. Bernard Jenkin MP, Chair of the Public Administration Select Committee, reiterated calls for a review of the civil service by a dedicated Parliamentary Commission.

During the discussion, John Healey MP mentioned the FDA's contribution to the subject of civil service reform, citing "some excellent work done by think-tanks, IPPR, the Institute for Government and the First Division Association [FDA's previous monicker]."

Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude spoke at the end of the debate, responding that while he "commend[s] GovernUp" for proposing more analysis, he feels that a Parliamentary Commission should only be ordered if the Government's "relatively modest proposals" in their current reform programme cannot be implemented.

Watch the full House of Commons debate

Read the debate transcript in Hansard


14 March

A report in today’s Morning Star from the TUC Women’s Conference mentioned the FDA’s contribution to the debates, including mention of the union’s motions on equal pay, ‘the concrete ceiling’ and facility time for equality reps. The report is currently unavailable online.


13 March

Dave Penman took part in a discussion on the Jeremy Vine Show on BBC Radio 2 yesterday regarding pay levels in the public sector and the employment of consultants in place of civil servants

Penman said:

“Consultants are still far more expensive than civil servants and the point here is consultants are not being brought in to bring in a particular expertise, they’re being brought in increasingly to cover what would be ordinary jobs of civil servants because the civil service cannot afford to pay the salary levels – the Government won’t let them pay the salary levels needed to attract the staff.”

Listen to the show:
The Jeremy Vine Show (1 hour 9mins in)

13 March

The FDA issued a press release in response to yesterday’s publication of the Senior Salaries Review Body recommendations for senior civil service (SCS) pay, as well as the Government’s responding Written Ministerial Statement.

General Secretary Dave Penman said:

“Once again the Government have ignored the evidence that shows huge long-term dissatisfaction with pay and a widening chasm between civil service pay levels and the rest of the economy.

It is no longer the case that they are sleep walking into a disaster; the SSRB itself, the National Audit Office, the Civil Service Commission, the Public Administration Select Committee and the FDA have all highlighted evidence of growing discontent and the need for longer term reform”

Read the full press release:
Failure to address pay crisis puts future capability of the civil service at risk, says FDA


24 February 

The FDA’s press release on the widening civil service gender pay gap was reported in the Guardian Public Leaders Network online.

The article stated that "according to the FDA, the senior public servants' union, the Government's own evidence to the Senior Salaries Review Body shows that women are paid 5.4% less than their male counterparts – up from 5% in 2011."

FDA General Secretary Dave Penman was quoted in the article, referring to the long-term reasons behind the pay differences: "It is right to view the widening gender pay gap as a failure of Government pay policy for the civil service, but the problem runs much deeper. Pay freezes started by the last Government and perpetuated by this one have led to a distorted and dysfunctional pay system in the civil service. It is no wonder that nearly a third of top performing senior civil servants want to leave the service as soon as possible."

Read the full article:
Civil service morale stagnates over pay and cuts, survey finds
Guardian Public Leaders Network


17 February

ARC’s press release from their 14 February day of their industrial action was extensively covered in the media, in the BBC business news online and also in approximately 80 other national and local media outlets.

ARC President Gareth Hills and FDA General Secretary Dave Penman were both quoted in the articles.

Hills said: "Since the introduction of the new performance management system in April 2013, HMRC's approach has been overly focused on a level of poor performance that is not merited by the overall, continually improving performance of the organisation.

"Last year HMRC's compliance interventions delivered an extra £20.7 billion into the coffers of the Exchequer. That's enough to fund the cost of primary healthcare for the whole of the UK and the lion's share of that amount was delivered by ARC members.

"This is why ARC members deserve a fair performance system and a fair deal."

Penman said: "Even Boris Johnson was prepared to involve ACAS to help resolve his dispute, yet HMRC refuses to do so."

"HMRC needs to recognise that, when so many of their senior managers and professionals are prepared to strike - not over pay but over an unfair and bureaucratic system of performance management - then it's time to strain every sinew to avoid a dispute and get back around the negotiating table."

Read a sample of the press coverage:
Accountancy Age

MSN News
Yahoo News
London Evening Standard
Belfast Telegraph
Express and Star
Evening Telegraph
South Wales Argus
Yorkshire Evening Post
 11 February

Details of ARC’s strike on 14 February are reported in Socialist Worker

Read the article:
Socialist worker


10 February

Jim Caldwell, National Officer for Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS), was quoted in The Journal of the Law Society of Scotland.

Caldwell expressed concern that the proposed abolision of the corroboration rule would create 'serious recourse issues' for COPFS and said: 'There are some courts that don't take place because of a lack of resources, and so they're under great pressure and that pressure is increasing'

Read the article:

Union warns of Crown resource issue if corroboration goes
The Journal of the Law Society of Scotland


9 February        

FDA National Officer Jim Caldwell appeared on yesterday’s Sunday Politics Scotland programme, discussing the pressures on the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS).

The report showed that the number of cases dealt with each year has increased by 15,000 since 2010, rising to 280,942 in 2013. Since November 2009, staff numbers have fallen from 590 to just 523 in November 2013.

Caldwell said: “There are major issues in terms of the workload, in terms of the stress that they are under, and in terms of a lack of preparation time for going to court… They’re under great pressure and that pressure is increasing.”

See the full interview:
FDA's Jim Caldwell on Sunday Politics Scotland - 9 February 2014
(40 minutes 5 seconds into the programme)


Details of ARC’s strike on 14 February are reported in Accounting Web online.

Read the article:
Tax officials to strike on Valentine's Day
Accounting Web
Please note: Only those registered with Accounting Web are able to read the article in full.

6 February

ARC's press release was reported across the media, in Accountancy Age, Economia and MSN News online.

ARC President Gareth Hills was quoted, explaining that “ARC members have been asked to strike not for money, but in pursuit of some basic principles: reducing bureaucracy so we can do our jobs, a fair performance appraisal, rewarding, not penalising, promotions; and a fair deal for professionals.  "Our members are not faceless bureaucrats, but real people striving every day to serve the government and the public. The work they do builds schools, hospitals, libraries and playgrounds. It's work that funds the social fabric of the UK and delivers for the nation. They deserve a fair performance system, one which allows them to do their job free from the tangle of bureaucracy."

Read the full article:
ARC union members vote for HMRC strike
Accountancy Age

Senior HMRC officials to strike
Economia

HMRC staff in management strike
MSN News

5 February

The Guardian reported on ARC taking industrial action on Friday 14 February.

The article refers to the HMRC performance management and terms and conditions issues that have led to the strike, and notes that this is “the first time that 2,500 tax officials in the FDA, a traditionally conservative union representing Britain's leading mandarins, have taken industrial action inside HMRC on an issue that is not pay-related”.

FDA General Secretary Dave Penman was quoted referring to members’ concerns over quota impositions, which require 10% of staff to be identified as underperforming:

"Our members in HMRC are not faceless bureaucrats, but real people striving every day to serve the government and the public. They deserve a fair performance system, one which allows them to do their job, free from the tangle of bureaucracy," he said.

Read the full article:
Tax officials to strike over HMRC 'must improve' employee appraisals
The Guardian

23 January

Using information from 1984 Government papers recently released by The National Archives, Civil Service World has revealed that the Government monitored civil servants’ participation in industrial action so that it could illegally hinder career prospects and block promotion.

The report includes FDA General Secretary Dave Penman’s comment in relation to the union’s current membership in the security services, that “the Government has nothing to fear from trade union members – even those doing some of the most sensitive work in the country.”

Read the full article:
Government monitored strike action to illegally penalise staff
Civil Service World


20 January

A report in the Financial Times on public servants being offered ‘resilience training’ as part of civil service leadership programmes uses figures from the FDA’s working hours survey, in order to illustrate stressful working conditions.

The report states that the annual survey of FDA members “showed that more than two in three felt excessive hours were a problem in their department. Almost the same number felt their department was taking insufficient steps to address this.”

Read the full article:
UK civil servants offered ‘resilience training’ to toughen up
Financial Times


17 January

FDA National Officer Wynne Parry took part in the Guardian Public Leaders Network live chat on public sector cuts after 2015. Parry was part of an expert panel which included Josh Harris from the Institute for Government and the Guardian’s own David Walker. 

Parry mentioned ARC’s Budget submission and the FDA’s White Paper, which both provide recommendations for reform, reducing the need for future cuts and helping to maintain a world-class civil service. He concluded that “more needs to be done on recognition, reward and resources for civil servants to ensure the high-quality services the public rightly demand.”

Read the live chat in full:
Public sector cuts after 2015: where will the axe fall?
Guardian Public Leaders Network


16 January

During the House of Lords debate on the future of the civil service the FDA was mentioned by Lord Smith of Clifton and Baroness Hayter, who held up her copy of the FDA’s alternative White Paper in the House.  

Lord Hennessy, who had called for the subject to be debated, agreed with PASC and the Liaison Committee that there should be a Commission into the future of the civil service. Most present agreed, though some thought the Commission should be an independent one.

At the end of the debate, Lord Wallace of Saltaire (Lords Spokesperson, Cabinet Office), responded on behalf of David Cameron that “the Prime Minister is not currently persuaded of the need for a massive enquiry into the future of the civil service. It’s much more helpful if we take one chunk at a time, not the whole thing.” However, the point was made by some that if the Government declines to create a joint Committee, the Lords could start ad hoc committee if they wished to do so.

Watch the debate in full:

Parliament TV: House of Lords debate on the future of the civil service - 16 January 2014
(40 minutes 43 seconds into the recording)

Read the full debate:

Lords Hansard for 16 January 2014: The future of the civil service