Politicians need to ‘get off the backs of civil servants and recognise their value and professionalism’ says FDA leader

In his speech at the FDA's annual conference on Thursday morning [14 May 2014], General Secretary Dave Penman told delegates that he is "sick and tired of politicians, of all parties, unfairly criticising the civil service and civil servants".

Penman referred to politicians who "focus on failure and ignore success. Those that 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 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. And those that believe accountability means hand-picking your own team and dismissing the careers of life-long public servants on the basis of whim.

"Every day thousands of civil servants - FDA members - are prosecuting crime and keeping our streets safe. They're bringing in vital resource and outwitting tax avoidance schemes dreamt up by consultants paid 10 or 20 times more than they are. They're raising standards in education, delivering welfare, running the health service, representing our interests abroad, creating growth in the economy, protecting the environment and supporting - without fear or favour - the elected Government of the day. Speaking truth unto power even when the powerful don't like or want to hear truth.

"So 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." 

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:

  • Dave Penman, FDA General Secretary, tel: 020 7401 5555 or 07967 503827.
  • Kay Hender, Communications Manager, tel: 020 7401 5555 or 07980 700747.