That has seriously buggered things up. It was expensive enough to make Civil Servants redundant under the scheme as amended, which capped payoffs at two years pay. This ruling means that the old system still stands, which could see some people with long service walking out of the door with three years pay or more than six years if they joined the Civil Service before 1987.
Worse still from the government’s perspective, the court has said that changes to redundancy terms can’t be made without the agreement of all the unions. This means that if the government wants to change any of the provisions relating to redundancy and severance, such as the mind-numbingly complex and arcane redeployment process, it will not be able to do it without unanimous union agreement, which it will not get.
Cutting Civil Service headcount is therefore going to be very expensive and very slow. The only way the government could get around this would be to change the law which, given its wafer-thin majority (whoever gets in), will be extremely difficult.
A few weeks ago I worked out that it would cost well over £1bn to make 40,000 civil servants redundant. The cost will now be higher still and the process will be cumbersome too. Will politicians still be promising efficiency savings in central government? If so, they’d better get a war chest ready to pay for them.