Page last updated at 10:14 GMT, Saturday, 23 January 2010

Civil servants condemn 'dysfunctional' government

Gordon Brown is to appear at the Iraq Inquiry
Mr Brown has been criticised for not being decisive by Tories in the past

The UK government has become "utterly dysfunctional" and is failing to prepare for spending cuts, the head of the civil servants' union has said.

Jonathan Baume, of First Division Association (FDA), told the Guardian No 10 was seen as a "blockage" because of indecision from the prime minister.

Some ministers had "given up" and civil servants were starting to informally prepare for a Tory government, he said.

A Cabinet Office spokesman told the paper it generally got its role right.

The FDA represents 18,000 senior civil servants, policy advisers, diplomats and government economists.

There is always room for improvement, but we believe we generally get the balance right
Cabinet Office spokesman

Mr Baume, who has been FDA general secretary since 1997, told the newspaper the dysfunction he perceives is "partly political and partly organisational".

"No-one is clear how the Treasury, the prime minister's office and the Cabinet Office actually loop together and come up with a coherent policy initiative.

"When Gordon Brown became prime minister, no clear direction ever emerged from him," he said.

He said there was a "government by announcement", with new policies unveiled without a clear indication of how they would be funded at a time when departmental chiefs were looking at how budgets could be cut by 17%.

There was a "sense of malaise at the political level", with some ministers already focusing on what would happen after the election.

A Cabinet Office spokesman told the Guardian the role of the centre of government was to "set the strategic direction, provide co-ordination and maintain the standards across government, while departments take leadership on specific issues".

"There is always room for improvement, but we believe we generally get the balance right," he said.

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