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Govt Appears To Have Problems Filling The Front Line

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Tony Ryall
Tony Ryall

By Ian Llewellyn of NZPA

Wellington, March 17 NZPA - The Government has increased the number of positions of what it calls front line staff, but figures released today show it is having difficulties filling them.

Figures released by State Services Minister Tony Ryall today show the overall number of what the Government defines as core public servants dropped by 1437 from 34,854 to 33,417 over the course of 2009 with another 2309 positions vacant at the end of the year.

The Government said it was moving resources to front line agencies and pointed to increases in the number of prison officers, probation staff, Work and Income, as well as CYF.

However, the figures showed while there may be more positions in these agencies placed outside the cap, there appeared to be difficulties in finding people to fill them.

Positions with those organisations increased by 540 from 13,824 to 14,364, but there were 629 vacancies.

CYF positions were actually down 52 from 3022 to 2970 with another 139 vacancies.

The number of prison staff positions was up by 18 from 4587 to 4605, but there were 193 vacancies.

Community Probation and Psychological Services had 318 more positions from 2047 to 2365 with 209 vacancies.

Work and Income had the least number of vacancies with 88, while it increased the number of positions by 256 from 4168 to 4424.

Inside the core civil service, Inland Revenue took the largest slice in staff numbers as the Government squeezed the lid on the public service.

Over the course of last year, IRD axed 467 positions, taking overall numbers down from 6310 to 5843. On top of that there were 187 vacancies at IRD at the end of the year.

The Social Development Ministry and the Health Department both lost 201 positions.

Social Development (excluding CYF and Work and Income staff) went from 2506 to 2305 positions with 164 of those vacant.

The Health Ministry, which announced it was planning to lose another 130 positions today, reduced numbers from 1675 to 1474 and was carrying 27 vacancies.

The Conservation Department also lost 104 positions coming down from 2524 to 2420, a reduction of 104 with a further 118 unfilled positions.

Treasury was the only core Government agency that was immune to the cuts, increasing staff by 20 from 384 to 404 with 41 vacancies.

Finance Minister Bill English said the increase in functions was due to extra tasks dealing with the recession, such as managing the bank guarantee schemes.

He indicated they would be facing cuts over the next three years.

The figures released today also included details of what the Government defined as core government administration which included Housing NZ, New Zealand Qualifications Authority, Trade and Enterprise, Transport Agency and the Tertiary Education Commission.

They started 2009 with 4005 positions and were down 43 to 3962 by the end of the year with 273 vacant jobs.

The hardest hit was the Tertiary Education Commission with 66 positions lost, while the Transport Agency increased positions by 44.

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