A report by the education select committee has found that staff morale in the department is flagging as a result of extensive restructuring over the past two years.
A further review has shown that up to 1,000 people are at risk of redundancy as a plan to reduce administrative spending by an amazing 50 per cent by 2015.
Half of the buildings the ministry uses will go, and everyone will be told to focus on ministerial priorities.
No one quite knows what any of this means but everyone seems to think their areas are going to be hit. Certainly it would seem unlikely that staffing on setting up and vetting Free Schools will be cut as this is a prime government policy. Social care however may well be seriously cut.
A DfE spokeswoman said the review was intended to make sure that the department has the capability to deliver well-designed policies that have a “measurable impact on the children and young people who need it most, while minimising costs to the taxpayer. “Over the coming months we will target our staff time and money on only our top priorities, cutting red tape and concentrating on the work that adds the most value.”
“We are reducing the size of our backroom staff and merging offices to reduce the cost of our buildings. The DfE had already committed to reducing its administrative budget in real terms by 42 per cent from 2010/11 to 2014/15. Following the review, our target is a 50 per cent reduction to £290m by 2015/16.”
Mark Serwotka, general secretary of the Public and Commercial Services union, which represents civil servants, said, “Gove appears to want to run his department as some kind of nightmarish right-wing experiment, playing politics with people’s livelihoods and putting at risk the very important services DfE civil servants provide to schools, teachers and the public.
“Staff in the DfE will not sit back and allow their jobs and the vital work they do supporting the education and development of our children to be used as some kind of ideological testing ground for what is nothing more than an extension of an already discredited and failing obsession with cuts and austerity.”