An accountant acquaintance tried to break out the numbers and costs of government front line staff and back office staff from various sources.Because of the difficulty in getting cost figures from opaque government sources,he had to rely on estimates,which gives rise to the suspicion that the government would prefer to keep the public in the dark.
His figures on employment numbers for some key departments break down as follows.
Health services total 130,000 staff of which 75,000 are front line and 55,000 back office,the proportion of back office being 42%. Front line staff include 37,000 nurses and 24,968 doctors and dentists.
Education services total 93,000 staff of which 55,000 are front line and 38,000 back office,a proportion of 41% back office.
He lists back office staff for "Regional Bodies" at 40,100,which includes the army of quango bureaucrats, and for the civil service at 38,400.
Bureaucrats have a common ploy for deflecting spending cuts aimed at bureaucratic overheads: they identify their role as much as possible with the front line service providers,the nurses,doctors,teachers etc whose services are appreciated by the public. Their first line of defence is to say that it is unthinkable to cut nurses,teachers and doctors. If it is pointed out that saving could be made in bureaucratic overheads,they claim that their services are inextricably bound up with the front line.
I'd be interested in the opinion of P.ie readers,especially those with a knowledge of administration,on whether the level of back office staff in the figures should be targeted for cuts in the coming mini-budget. The figure for regional bodies seems especially bloated.