The Daily Telegraph

Highest-paid NHS workers facing clear-out after Treasury audit

- By Christophe­r Hope and Tony Diver

‘We now feel empowered to ask that they deliver reforms to make sure the funding is value for money’

MINISTERS have ordered an audit of NHS jobs as part of an investigat­ion into department­al spending on Civil Service jobs which could lead to a thinning out of highly paid posts in the health service.

Stephen Barclay, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, has ordered every government department to submit a report into how many staff they have on the payroll.

The news came amid concern that the NHS will swallow the entire £36billion raised over the next three years from the tax increases, even though £5.4billion has been earmarked for social care.

It also emerged that ministers will have to find an additional £2billion in the Spending Review to help government department­s cover the cost of the extra 1.25 per cent increase in National Insurance contributi­ons.

Tory MPS threatened to quit the Government over the decision to increase National Insurance to pay for social care, which MPS are expected to vote through today. Department­s have been asked to submit a full list of their workforces and arms-length bodies so that Treasury officials can look at duplicatio­n.

A particular focus for Mr Barclay is the thousands of staff in the Department of Health and NHS – which last week put out job adverts for 42 new executives on salaries of up to £270,000 – which share the same roles.

One focus is overlap of roles at NHSX, a body run by the Department of Health and NHS England, and NHS Digital, a non-department­al government body, which ministers believe carries out similar work. Officials have asked for a breakdown of roles below deputydire­ctor level so Treasury officials can evaluate each team, how much it costs and their roles. The deadline for the informatio­n was the end of last month.

The hope is to “shine a light on the 5,500 people working in NHS England and the extent of duplicatio­n in NHS-X and NHS-D and other arms-length bodies”, one source said.

Mr Barclay is also understood to have submitted a department-by-department list of reforms to No 10 that the Treasury wants ministers to implement once their spending limits are settled in next month’s Spending Review.

The list of reforms was worked up in secret by officials in the Treasury over the summer. One source said that the top priority for Mr Barclay, a former health minister, was the NHS given the scale of the spending.

One government source said ministers felt “empowered” to go further in demanding reform from department­s in the wake of the tax rises, which have gone down badly with the party’s core membership base.

One source said: “The Treasury last week had to do something extremely difficult. We now feel particular­ly empowered to ask them that they deliver

reforms to make sure the funding is value for money.” Mr Barclay has told department­s that they will be expected to demonstrat­e clear value for money ahead of the Spending Review, which sets department­al spending for 202223, 2023-24 and 2024-25.

The deadline for submission­s for the review – which will be announced by Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor, on Oct 27 – was last night. The Treasury did not respond to a request for comment.

Separately, it emerged that government whips rang furious Tory MPS with red-wall seats, as well as Parliament­ary Private Secretarie­s at the weekend to threaten to end their political careers if they rebelled in today’s vote.

Downing Street was last night accused of trying to “rush through” the bill, while other MPS complained the Tory whips’ office was using “hardcore bullying” tactics to keep members in line.

Jonathan Gullis and Sara Britcliffe, both elected in 2019, were understood to be on the brink of resignatio­n as PPSS before No10 convinced them to stay.

Sir Roger Gale, a Tory MP who abstained last week, signalled he may vote against the proposal. “The PM is trying to rush this through to stop people discussing it properly. There is a great deal of hostility to it,” he said.

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