BORIS Johnson has written to civil servants telling them there needs to be “fewer” of them as the UK Government is set to slash public sector jobs.

The Prime Minister said in the letter leaked to The Times that the civil service has grown by over 20% since 2016, telling staff that their “colossal presence” will be scaled back.

It comes after the Cabinet Office board signed off plans to close the civil service’s flagship graduate scheme for at least a year as part of plans to reduce staff numbers.

And now it has been revealed that the civil service will be facing significant cuts as the Government tries to save costs due to inflation, the PM told staff.

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In the leaked letter, Johnson wrote: “Our civil service has grown by over 20% since 2016. But as we move on to new challenges — including tackling the aftershocks of the pandemic and growing the economy to address the cost of living — we no longer require the State to have the same colossal presence in people’s lives.

“And rolling back the state in turn means we will also need fewer civil servants.”

Johnson then added that although he believes the service civil servants provide is a “great and noble calling”, their jobs are funded by the taxpayer that the government has a “moral duty to spend judiciously”.

He continued: “So we must ensure the cost of government is no greater than absolutely necessary to deliver for the people we serve.

The National: Johnson's letter to civil servants calling for "fewer" of them was leaked to the pressJohnson's letter to civil servants calling for "fewer" of them was leaked to the press

“And as many families and businesses now look at how to reduce their costs in a period of higher global inflation, it is right that we do the same. That is why I have asked my ministerial team and permanent secretaries to develop proposals to return the civil service to the size it was in 2016.”

Johnson told the officials: “I know that this will cause concern and uncertainty and I am sorry for that”.

He promised to “complete this work swiftly and to provide every possible support to anyone affected by the changes that follow”.

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Last year about 60,000 people applied for the Fast Stream graduate scheme and more than 1000 of them were offered Whitehall jobs.

Many senior civil servants and permanent secretaries began their careers on the Fast Stream.

According to The Telegraph, the decision to freeze the scheme was signed off in a meeting chaired by Steve Barclay, Johnson’s chief of staff. Levelling-up Secretary Michael Gove is said to have criticised the plan in a Cabinet meeting.

Dave Penman, general secretary of the FDA union of senior civil servants, expressed fury at the proposal to close the graduate scheme.

The National: Steve Barclay reportedly signed off on the pause to the civil servant graduate schemeSteve Barclay reportedly signed off on the pause to the civil servant graduate scheme

He said: “If you want to know what virtue-signalling, short-termism looks like, this is it.

“The Fast Stream attracts some of the most capable graduates in the country and is about the next generation of leaders — this is venturing on vandalism for the future of the civil service.”

Angela Rayner, Labour’s deputy leader, also urged a rethink.

She said: “Ministers must urgently explain their rationale for this ill thought through and self-defeating decision.

“This knee-jerk move is proof, if any were needed, that this is not a serious government with any real interest in competent public administration.”