FDA Annual Delegate Conference 2017: Britain needs a strong civil service

Friday 12 May 2017

Delegates at the FDA's Annual Conference have this week called on the next Government to urgently invest to give Britain the strong civil service it will need for Brexit and beyond.

Conference overwhelmingly backed an Emergency Motion from the FDA's Executive Committee calling on the incoming Government - of whatever political colour - to provide new investment to ensure that the civil service:

  • has the capacity to deliver the quality public services the public needs and deserves
  • can deliver the best possible Brexit outcome and meet the additional demands that will follow Britain’s exit from the European Union
  • has a pay system that is able to motivate, recruit and retain the talent needed for the challenges ahead

Addressing the conference, FDA General Secretary Dave Penman pointed out that it is civil servants who will be doing the "heavy lifting" on Brexit while also keeping Britain’s public services running.

"For all the rhetoric around 'leadership' and being 'bloody difficult', it will be the hard and complex work of civil servants that will determine the outcome of these negotiations," he said.

"And if they are to be a success, then Britain needs a strong civil service. A strong civil service that can support the negotiations, prepare for and implement the outcome whilst at the same time, delivering high quality public services."

FDA President Gareth Hills, who moved the Emergency Motion, told delegates: "Britain needs a strong civil service. But civil servants at all levels are struggling to make ends meet as their pay stagnates. Civil service pay continues to fall behind private sector counterparts, and is now being outsripped by inflation.

“In calling the election the Prime Minister said 'this is a moment of enormous national significance'. Conference, the FDA says it's also a moment of enormous opportunity.

"An opportunity for the next government to tread a different path from its predecessor. An opportunity to discard outdated spending plans drawn up in a pre-Brexit world. An opportunity to change 'past their sell-by-date' approaches to workforce planning and pay, and to introduce fresh produce with renewed shelf lives."

2017's Annual Delegate Conference received media coverage in The Guardian, Civil Service World, Politico Europe and Public Finance, with those outlets also picking up on the findings of the union’s latest Working Hours Survey. The key findings of the survey are now available to read here.

Thank you to all delegates who attended this year's conference, and to all members who took part in the Working Hours Survey.

There will be further coverage of the ADC and the key decisions taken on the FDA website and in the forthcoming issue of Public Service Magazine.