In a speech lasting only 14 minutes, the Chancellor said he would specifically like to see fewer diversity and inclusion staff who spread “woke” values around Whitehall.
He told delegates at the Tory conference that he would extend a recruitment freeze for the Civil Service and said that on top of this, each department would have to put forward plans to reduce the number of officials they employ.
The aim is to reduce the size of the Civil Service from 457,000 now to its pre-pandemic size of 394,000 – a cut of about 15 per cent.
It means there will be 63,000 fewer officials, although it is not planned to make any compulsorily redundant.
Mr Hunt said departments would also have to carry out an audit of inclusion staff to ensure they are needed.
There are about 10,000 such staff in Whitehall, and Mr Hunt’s expectation is that this will be reduced.
In his speech, the Chancellor suggested that improving public sector productivity could enable him to cut taxes.
“We have the best civil servants in the world and they saved many lives in the pandemic by working night and day,” he said.
“But even after that pandemic is over, we still have 63,000 more civil servants than before.
“New policies should not always mean new people. So, today I’m freezing the expansion of the Civil Service and putting in place a plan to reduce its numbers to pre-pandemic levels.”
He added: “If we increase public-sector productivity growth by just half a per cent, we can stabilise public spending as a proportion of GDP.
“Increase it by more and we can bring the tax burden down. ”
John O’Connell, chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, welcomed the plan, saying: “Freezing Whitehall expansion is a step in the right direction.
“The mandarin jobs boom is one of the key drivers of the cost of government crisis that is hammering taxpayers.
“With the size of the Civil Service frozen, the Chancellor should now look to find savings by winding down unnecessary roles.”
But Dave Penman, general secretary of the FDA union, which represents senior civil servants, said Mr Hunt’s announcement was “intellectually bereft”.
“Jeremy Hunt may pride himself on being on the pragmatic wing of his party, but his announcement on Civil Service numbers is straight out of the Jacob Rees-Mogg playbook,” he said.
“Just like with the earlier Rees-Mogg announcement that the Civil Service would return to pre-Brexit staffing levels, picking a point in time in the past and deciding that is the right number of staff to deal with the public service challenges of the future is intellectually bereft.
“It is so glaringly arbitrary that all it does is demonstrate that this is not a serious government.”