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Analysis paper

Whitehall Monitor 2017: The civil service as it faces Brexit

The Government is trying to do too much as it prepares for Brexit, according to our analysis.

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The Government is trying to do too much as it prepares for Brexit, according to the 2017 Whitehall Monitor report, the IfG's data-driven analysis of how Whitehall is performing. It is also becoming less transparent in areas such as FoI and spending. The report finds the civil service continues to function despite fewer staff and less money. But as it prepares for the massive challenge of Brexit, the workforce is the smallest it has been in 70 years.

The report finds that the Government is still nowhere near to reducing its workload by 30%, as the Chief Executive of the civil service advised. The major projects portfolio remains too big and half of departments have 50 or more listed priorities. So from the ‘just about managing’ to Heathrow, the civil service has a demanding to-do list even before Brexit. Some of the departments facing the biggest challenge around Brexit have experienced the deepest cuts. Defra, for example, estimates 80% of the department’s work is framed by EU legislation but has cut one in three staff since 2010. The Home Office – also affected by Brexit, given its immigration responsibilities – has had its day-to-day budget reduced by nearly a fifth.

Download the full report from this page, or the summary.

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