Accelerated graduation scheme Rijksdienst closed for at least a year

The Civil Service rapids will be shut down for at least a year after Boris Johnson makes the change, despite dissent from some of his own ministers.

The scheme, designed to make the country’s brightest graduates work for the government, will not be implemented in 2023 as part of efforts to cut the civil service by a fifth.

The decision was signed at the Cabinet Office board meeting on May 19, which was chaired by Stephen Barclay, Mr Johnson’s chief of staff.

A line in the minutes of the meeting, leaked to The Telegraph, reads: “The chairman confirmed that the prime minister had decided that the rapid flow would be interrupted for at least a year.”

Last year, some 60,000 people applied and more than 1,000 job openings were posted as part of the scheme, which is seen as a fast track to senior civil service positions.

Most of the permanent secretaries of government departments came in through the fast stream.

Closure may take longer than planned

The scheme includes applications for the diplomatic service of Foreign Affairs.

The reference in the minutes to the break lasting ‘at least’ a year opens the possibility that the faststream shutdown could last longer than currently planned.

When the prime minister first announced the move at a cabinet meeting in Stoke earlier this month, when he announced 91,000 civil servant jobs to be cut, there was some resistance around the table.

Michael Gove, the Secretary of the Communities, is said to have criticized the idea during the ensuing debate.

He oversaw the civil service reform until last September, when he was relocated in the reshuffle.

There was also unrest in parts of the Treasury, with seniors urging to ensure their own graduate schemes would remain unaffected.

Government department officials whose staff is primarily involved in implementing frontline policies are also said to have privately expressed concerns about the change.

But Mr Johnson and Mr Barclay, who will remain in the role of Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and serve in the Prime Minister’s Office, have pushed through the reform.

Chance for ministers to make regulation ‘effective’

A government source known for supporting the move said: “The Prime Minister and Cabinet have agreed on a staff freeze in Whitehall to reduce the size of the civil service and reduce the cost of government to the British people.

“A temporary pause in rapid recruitment will mark significant progress in efforts to bring the civil service workforce back to 2016 levels and give ministers the opportunity to make the scheme even more effective in the future.”

The decision was taken internally and is expected to be announced in the coming months.

The current successful applicants of the rapid flow that will start work this fall will not be affected by the move and it will start from the fall of 2023.

The rapid flow of Civil Service Affairs consists of 15 individual schemes. Some are for specific types of work or roles, others are broad and may apply to a variety of government positions.

They include the “diplomatic service” – the entry point for potential ambassadors – as well as groupings such as “project delivery”, “commercial”, “social research” and “generalist”.

University graduates with a degree 2 or higher can apply. Successful applicants often take on short-term positions in various departments and prepare them for senior positions.

Mr Johnson wants to cut the civil service by about a fifth, to return to pre-Brexit size.

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