U.K. Struggles to Deliver Services as Brexit Bites, Report Says

(Bloomberg) -- Indecision and uncertainty over Brexit have left the U.K. government struggling to fulfill its functions and deliver major projects despite hiring extra workers, according to an annual review of its performance.

The rapid turnover of ministers and civil servants has added to disruption and diluted expertise, the Institute for Government said in its "Whitehall Monitor 2019." More than half of current Cabinet ministers only took on their roles in 2018, while some departments lost 40 percent of their staff last year.

“Many aspects of the day to day work of government, from managing major projects to delivering public services, have been hindered by the all-consuming political focus on Brexit,” said Gavin Freeguard, program director at the cross-party institute. “British politics continues to be torn apart.”

Findings include:

  • Staff increased to 404,160 in September from 384,260 at the time of the referendum in June 2016, reversing one in five job cuts made by David Cameron’s Tory-led government after 2010.
  • Brexit and Theresa May’s lack of a majority have hampered the legislative program, with just five of 13 bills the government says are needed before Brexit passing through Parliament.
  • One third of Treasury staff are working on Brexit.
  • There’s a growing risk of the U.K.’s 133 "major projects" not being delivered on time and on budget. Fewer than one in five are currently rated green or amber/green, meaning successful delivery is at least probable, compared to almost half in 2013.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.