Civil servants ‘terrified’ of being sent to London because they can’t afford rent, says union leader

·2-min read
A sign for Whitehall  (PA Archive)
A sign for Whitehall (PA Archive)

Civil servants are “terrified” of being sent to London because they cannot afford the capital’s sky-high rents, a union leader has said.

Dave Penman, the general secretary of the FDA union which represents senior civil servants, said that some ministerial advisers were reporting skipping meals as the cost-of-living crisis hits.

Mr Penman said that civil servants could be forced to strike unless the Government improves its pay offer which will see average pay rises this year by two per cent.

Speaking to Times Radio, he said: “We’ve got members who are graduate members in the fast-stream who are telling us that they’re skipping meals.

“They’re rotated around the country, they’re terrified of being rotated to London because they simply will not be able to afford rent, heat and food.

“These are quite often the people who are advising ministers, the people who are working in the private offices of ministers, and they are skipping meals.

“That’s where we have got to in relation to the impact of the cost of living. This isn’t something people will just do at the drop of a hat."

Mr Penman also said there was a “lot of resentment built up,” adding: “My expectation is we probably will find ourselves in a position where we’ll get members wanting to take action in a number of areas.”

Members of the Public and Commercial Services union, the largest civil servants’ union, voted in an indicative ballot earlier this year in favour of industrial action.

A statutory ballot is set to be held from September 26.

Both Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak, who are competing to become the next prime minister, have vowed to find efficiencies across Whitehall if they are successful.

Government ministers have also publicly criticised civil servants over home working.

Jacob Rees-Mogg, the minister for Government efficiency, said earlier this week he is planning on selling £1.5bn worth of government offices in London because of the proportion of civil servants continuing to work from home.