Exclusive: Home Office comms staff face job losses

The Home Office comms team could be reduced by up to 60 people by the end of this year, including some redundancies, PRWeek understands.

The Home Office comms team's headcount may be cut by 20 per cent this year (Pic credit: CAMimage/Alamy)
The Home Office comms team's headcount may be cut by 20 per cent this year (Pic credit: CAMimage/Alamy)

Simon Baugh, who was appointed director of communications at the Home Office earlier this month, has informed comms staff of plans to scrap dozens of jobs by the end of this year, PRWeek understands.

The Home Office’s 300-strong comms team is one of the biggest in government – second only to the Ministry of Defence, which has more than 500 people employed in comms.

Baugh is understood to have indicated that the headcount in the Home Office’s comms department will be reduced by 20 per cent by the end of this year.

This will almost certainly mean redundancies, fixed-term contracts not being renewed, and/or people who leave not being replaced.

Now read: Priti Patel tried to sack Home Office comms chief on Christmas Eve

Changing fortunes

The comms team rose from 370 in 2017, when data of civil servants in departments by profession was first released, to 400 in 2018.

It was slashed by a quarter last year, falling to 300.

The latest planned job losses come amid wider changes across the Government – symbolised by the reshuffle earlier this month which resulted in a smaller cabinet – and pressure on the Treasury over spending plans.

Home Office permanent secretary Sir Philip Rutnam said yesterday (Thursday), during a speech at a police chiefs' conference in central London, that the next spending review will be “very tight”.

He added: “If further resources are to be sought, I would say you have to be very focused, [and] have very good evidence and a strong business case.”

The Home Office refused to comment on the cuts facing its comms staff.

The Cummings effect

Reducing the number of staff at one of the Government’s biggest departments echoes the desire of Dominic Cummings, Boris Johnson’s de facto chief of staff, for a slimmed-down Civil Service.

He has made no secret of his contempt for comms professionals, and has boasted that during his time as a special adviser to Michael Gove at the Department for Education, they “more than halved the press office, and cut 95 percent of the communication budget”.

And in a blog post in 2018, Cummings stated: “Inevitably, the world of ‘communications’/PR/advertising/marketing is full of charlatans flogging snake oil.”

Click here to subscribe to the FREE public sector bulletin to receive dedicated public sector news, features and comment straight to your inbox.

Make sure you register for the site to access more than one story per month.

To submit a news, comment, case study or analysis idea for the public sector bulletin, email Ian.Griggs@haymarket.com

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Already registered?
Sign in