Iain Duncan Smith’s comments highlight growing blame culture in Government, says senior public servants’ union

Thursday 5 September 2013
(For immediate release)

Responding to the Secretary of State for Work and Pension’s public statements that a lack of “professionalism” and a “culture of secrecy” among the team of civil servants originally in charge of the Universal Credit programme were to blame for its problems, FDA Assistant General Secretary Rob O’Neill said:

“Iain Duncan Smith’s comments go to the very heart of the ongoing debate about the accountability of Ministers and civil servants. They represent a growing blame culture in Government where Ministers blame civil servants but fail to take any responsibility when things go wrong or overrun.

“Ministers can do this because they know that civil servants are unable to publicly answer back. The public will not be aware of the policy advice that Ministers have received from civil servants and whether, for example, they been warned about the feasibility of implementing complex policies or projects in relation to scope, resourcing and timescale.

“Ministers telling the media that civil servants are to blame as soon as anything doesn’t go to plan is unhelpful and regrettable. It impacts on the morale and motivation of civil servants and does nothing to attract those with the skills and capability needed to deliver efficient Government.

“It is imperative that the Government matches resources to priorities - and ensures that it has the right skills in its workforce to deliver those priorities. This means setting pay at the right level to recruit and retain those skilled professionals. The Government’s civil service pay policy currently acts as a significant barrier to achieving its objectives.”


Notes for editors

1. The FDA is the trade union for the UK's senior public servants and professionals. FDA membership includes more than 19,000 senior civil servants, government policy advisors, prosecutors, diplomats, tax professionals, economists, solicitors and other professionals working across Government and the NHS.

2. The FDA (formerly the First Division Association) should be referred to simply as "The FDA" and can be described as "the senior public servants’ union".

3. The FDA can be found on Twitter @FDA_union and at www.fda.org.uk.

4. The FDA’s alternative White Paper - ‘Delivering for the Nation: Securing a World-Class Civil Service – outlining our analysis of the challenges facing the civil service and our recommendations for change, can be read here.
5. For further information contact:
• Rob O’Neill, FDA Assistant General Secretary, tel: 020 7401 5555.
• Kay Hender, Communications Officer, tel: 020 7401 5589 or 07980 700747.
• Diana Ruthven, Communications Officer, tel: 020 7401 5588 or 07791 040394.