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Statistical bulletin: Public Sector Employment, September 2015 This product is designated as National Statistics

Released: 16 December 2015 Download PDF

Main points for September 2015

  • Total UK public sector employment decreased by 12,000 from June 2015 to 5.349 million, which is its lowest level, on a headcount basis, since the start of the series in 1999. On the same period a year ago, public sector employment fell by 59,000.
  • Employment in UK local government, at 2.257 million, was 12,000 lower than at June 2015. This is the lowest level shown since the beginning of the series in 1999.
  • Employment in UK central government, at 2.911 million, was 2,000 lower than at June 2015.
  • Employment in UK public corporations, at 181,000, was 2,000 higher than at June 2015 but 3,000 lower than at September 2014.
  • Private sector employment, at 25.953 million, increased by 219,000 compared with June 2015 and was 565,000 higher than at September 2014. Private sector employment has risen in every quarter from December 2011. This is the highest recorded level in the series.

In this bulletin

Public sector employment (PSE) figures are derived from a range of sources. The main source is the Quarterly Public Sector Employment Survey which comprises three separate data collections: local authorities in England and Wales, the home Civil Service, and public bodies in Great Britain. The survey aims to obtain complete coverage of local government and the Civil Service, and coverage of all public bodies with 20 or more employees. It is difficult to achieve complete coverage for local and central government, for example in the education sector. Information on quality can be found in the Quality and Methodology Information for Public Sector Employment (115.9 Kb Pdf)  article.

Headcount estimates of PSE are presented by sector classification, industry and region. Civil Service employment is shown by government department and agency. Employment in executive non-departmental public bodies (NDPBs) has been aggregated by sponsoring department.

Reclassifications between the public and private sectors, which affect the trends, are also addressed. Full-time equivalent estimates of PSE are available in the accompanying reference tables.

Revisions have been made to the series in line with the public sector employment revisions policy (background note 3 has further details).

Summary PSE statistics from this release are also published in the monthly UK Labour Market statistical release. The UK Labour Market release provides a comprehensive picture of the structure and size of the UK labour market each month. The quarterly PSE statistics are published on the same day as the UK Labour Market figures each quarter.

It is important to note that the Public Sector Employment estimates are point in time employment estimates and relate to a specific day in the published month.

These statistics are mainly used to monitor changes in the number of people employed in the UK public and private sector. They are the official measure of UK PSE.

A new naming convention has been introduced in this bulletin. March, June, September and December will now be used rather than Q1, Q2, Q3 and Q4 respectively to denote the period for which employment is recorded.  

Total UK public sector employment

Figure 1: Total UK public sector employment, March 1999 to September 2015, seasonally adjusted

Figure 1: Total UK public sector employment, March 1999 to September 2015, seasonally adjusted
Source: Quarterly Public Sector Employment Survey - Office for National Statistics

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In September 2015, total UK public sector employment (PSE) was 5.349 million, 1.022 million (16.0%) lower than the peak level of 6.371 million seen in September 2009. This represents a fall of 12,000 (0.2%) on the previous quarter and 59,000 (1.1%) on the previous year.

Without the effects of major reclassifications between public and private sectors, PSE fell by 48,000 (0.9%) on the previous year.

Figure 1 shows that in September 2015 total UK PSE is below the level when the series started in March 1999. There has been a downward trend in total UK PSE since its peak in September 2009.

Public sector employment by sector classification

The public sector comprises central government, local government and public corporations as defined for the UK National Accounts.

Figure 2: UK public sector employment in local and central government, March 1999 to September 2015, seasonally adjusted

Figure 2: UK public sector employment in local and central government, March 1999 to September 2015, seasonally adjusted
Source: Quarterly Public Sector Employment Survey - Office for National Statistics

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Local government

In September 2015, employment in local government fell by 12,000 (0.5%) on the previous quarter and by 72,000 (3.1%) on the previous year. Figure 2 shows the decreasing trend in local government employment since June 2010 and the September 2015 level is the lowest shown since the series began.

Central government

In September 2015, employment in central government decreased by 2,000 (0.1%) on the previous quarter but increased by 16,000 (0.6%) on the previous year. This is mainly due to academy conversions (see below) over the period and an increase in NHS employment.

Factors affecting employment in local and central government

There is an ongoing shift of employment from local government to central government, as a result of local authority maintained schools converting to academy status. Academies are classified to central government, whereas local authority maintained schools are classified to local government. As a result, whenever a local authority maintained school becomes an academy, its employees move from local government to central government.

In September 2015, employment shifted from local government to central government by 4,000 on the quarter and 33,000 on the year, due to academy conversions.

In June 2012, English further education colleges were reclassified and an approximate 176,000 employees moved from central government to the private sector. English sixth-form college corporations were also reclassified from local government to the private sector; there was a transfer of employees with an approximate headcount of 20,000. In March 2015, Welsh further education colleges were reclassified and an approximate 12,000 employees moved from central government to the private sector.

Figure 3: UK public sector employment in Civil Service and public corporations, March 1999 to September 2015, seasonally adjusted

Figure 3: UK public sector employment in Civil Service and public corporations, March 1999 to September 2015, seasonally adjusted
Source: Quarterly Public Sector Employment Survey - Office for National Statistics

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UK public corporations

In September 2015, employment in UK public corporations increased by 2,000 (1.1%) on the previous quarter but decreased by 3,000 (1.6%) on the previous year.

Civil Service

In September 2015, Civil Service employment was 425,000. This is a decrease of 6,000 (1.4%) on the previous quarter and 15,000 (3.4%) on the previous year.

Figure 3 shows the downward trend in Civil Service employment since June 2005, when it was at its highest level of 571,000.

Public sector employment by industry

Figure 4: UK public sector employment by selected industries, March 1999 to September 2015, seasonally adjusted

Figure 4: UK public sector employment by selected industries, March 1999 to September  2015, seasonally adjusted
Source: Quarterly Public Sector Employment Survey - Office for National Statistics

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NHS

Since June 2012, the NHS has employed the largest number of public sector workers. At September 2015, the NHS accounted for around 30% of all PSE. Employment in the NHS increased by 3,000 (0.2%) on the previous quarter and by 18,000 (1.1%) on the previous year.

Education

In September 2015, employment in public sector education decreased by 10,000 (0.7%) on the previous quarter and by 6,000 (0.4%) on the previous year.

Prior to June 2012, public sector education employed the largest number of public sector workers.

Figure 4 shows the significant fall in public sector education in June 2012, as a result of the reclassification of English further education colleges and sixth form college corporations into the private sector.

Public administration

Public administration includes all administrative duties of local and central government.

In September 2015, employment in public administration fell by 3,000 (0.3%) on the previous quarter and by 35,000 (3.3%) on the previous year, and is the lowest level recorded since the series began.

Figure 4 shows the general downward trend in employment in public administration since September 2009.

Other public sector

The category 'other public sector' covers all industries that have not been specified elsewhere, such as financial institutions.

In September 2015, employment in the category 'other public sector' decreased by 1,000 (0.2%) on the previous quarter and by 9,000 (1.7%) on the previous year.

Figure 5: UK public sector employment by selected industries, March 1999 to September 2015, seasonally adjusted

Figure 5: UK public sector employment by selected industries, March 1999 to September 2015, seasonally adjusted
Source: Quarterly Public Sector Employment Survey - Office for National Statistics

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Other health and social work

This category covers all health and social work not covered by the NHS.

In September 2015, employment in 'other health and social work' decreased by 5,000 (2.0%) on the previous quarter and by 17,000 (6.5%) on the previous year.

Police

In September 2015, employment in the Police was unchanged when compared with June 2015. In the year to September 2015, employment in the Police fell by 2,000 (0.8%). Employment in the Police has seen a decreasing trend since September 2009; however, the rate of decrease has now lessened. This is shown in Figure 5.

HM Forces

In September 2015, employment in HM Forces was unchanged on the previous quarter but fell by 4,000 (2.5%) on the same quarter a year ago. Figure 5 shows the steady fall in employment in HM Forces since March 2010.

Construction

In September 2015, employment in public sector construction fell by 1,000 (2.9%) on the previous quarter and by 5,000 (12.8%) on the previous year.

Figure 5 shows the downward trend in employment in public sector construction from the beginning of the series in March 1999. From the start of 2012, the rate of decrease has lessened.

Public and private sector employment

Private sector employment estimates are derived as the difference between total UK employment estimates sourced from the Labour Force Survey and the public sector employment estimates collected from public sector organisations.

Total employment in the public sector decreased between June and September 2015, with employment in the private sector continuing to rise. Just over 17% of people in work are employed in the public sector.

Figure 6: UK public and private sector employment, March 1999 to September 2015, seasonally adjusted

Figure 6: UK public and private sector employment, March 1999 to September 2015, seasonally adjusted
Source: Quarterly Public Sector Employment Survey - Office for National Statistics

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The number of people employed in the private sector in September 2015 is estimated to be 25.953 million and is the highest recorded since the start of the series. Total UK private sector employment increased by 219,000 (0.9%) compared with June 2015 and 565,000 (2.2%) compared with September 2014. Total UK public sector employment decreased by 12,000 (0.2%) compared with June 2015 and 59,000 (1.1%) compared with September 2014.

The public and private sector employment series have been affected by a number of major reclassifications where bodies employing large numbers of people have moved between public and private sectors. Figure 6 shows the series excluding the effect of major reclassifications.

With the effect of major reclassifications removed, total UK private sector employment increased by 226,000 (0.9%) on the previous quarter and 554,000 (2.2%) on the previous year. On this basis, total UK public sector employment decreased by 19,000 (0.4%) on the previous quarter and 48,000 (0.9%) on the previous year.

Public and private sector employment by region

Seasonally adjusted series are not available when public and private sector employment is split by region. Therefore any differences between quarters in the published regional tables may be due to seasonal effects and changes should be calculated from the previous year. Each series begins at March 2008.

Public sector employment by region

Figure 7: Change in public sector employment, by region, between September 2014 and September 2015, not seasonally adjusted

Figure 7: Change in public sector employment, by region, between September 2014  and September 2015, not seasonally adjusted
Source: Quarterly Public Sector Employment Survey - Office for National Statistics

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Almost all of the September 2015 regional PSE headcount estimates are lower than the corresponding September 2014 estimates, as shown in Figure 7. London showed a small increase.

Wales (19,000; 6.2%) showed the largest level fall in PSE in the year to September 2015. In London, PSE increased by 1,000 (0.1%) in the year to September 2015.

The size of the fall in Wales is partly explained by the reclassification of 12,000 employees of Welsh further education colleges into the private sector in March 2015.

Private sector employment by region

Figure 8: Change in private sector employment, by region, between September 2014 and September 2015, not seasonally adjusted

Figure 8: Change in private sector employment, by region, between September 2014  and September 2015, not seasonally adjusted
Source: Quarterly Public Sector Employment Survey - Office for National Statistics

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In the year to September 2015, private sector employment increased in all of the 12 regions, as seen in Figure 8. The largest increases in employment level were in the South East (106,000; 3.0%) and the North West (92,000; 3.4%), followed by the South West (75,000; 3.4%) and London (70,000; 1.7%).

Proportion of total employment employed by the public sector

Figure 9: Proportion of total employment employed in the public sector, by region, September 2015, not seasonally adjusted

Figure 9: Proportion of total employment employed in the public sector, by region, September 2015, not seasonally adjusted
Source: Quarterly Public Sector Employment Survey - Office for National Statistics

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Figure 9 shows the proportion of all those in employment employed in the public sector for each UK region at September 2015.

Northern Ireland (25.7%), Wales (21.6%) and Scotland (20.9%) showed the highest public sector employment proportions.

At September 2015, the North East (20.2%) remains the English region with the highest public sector employment proportion. London (14.8%) had the lowest proportion.

Employment in the Civil Service and executive non-departmental public bodies (NDPBs)

Civil Service

At September 2015, employment in the UK Home Civil Service decreased by 6,000 (1.4%) compared with June 2015.

The largest decrease was reported by the Department for Work and Pensions (4,630). Decreases were also reported by Defence, Equipment and Support (1,000) and the Home Office (590).

The largest increases were reported by the National Offender Management Service (360) and the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (300).

Executive NDPBs

These bodies usually deliver a particular public service and are overseen by a board rather than ministers. Employment in executive NDPBs has been aggregated by sponsoring department.

Between June 2015 and September 2015, total employment in executive NDPBs decreased by 530.

Background notes

  1. Basic quality information

    In 2005, the Office for National Statistics (ONS), in collaboration with other government departments and the devolved administrations, implemented major improvements to public sector employment (PSE) estimates. Standard definitions for public sector employment across all departmental statistics were agreed and a single definitive set of quarterly PSE estimates introduced. A new Quarterly Public Sector Employment Survey (QPSES) was established. ONS publishes official PSE estimates each quarter as National Statistics, in the form of a statistical bulletin, approximately 11 weeks after the period to which they refer.

    Further details can be found in the Quality and Methodology Information for Public Sector Employment (115.9 Kb Pdf) article.

  2. Relevance to users

    The PSE estimates and data produced for the quarterly publication are used across government and feed into a number of wider publications and outputs. Some government departments use the total figures to facilitate policy making, whereas others use specific components of the data collection. The main users are as follows:

    • Cabinet Office

    • HM Treasury

    • Scottish Government

    • Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG)

    • Local Government Association (LGA)

  3. Revisions

    Public sector employment statistics have previously been published for all periods from 1999 up to and including June 2015. In line with the published revisions policy for public sector employment statistics (26.4 Kb Pdf) , the statistics have been revised, to take account of late information from respondents.

    Tables 1R to 5R illustrate the size of the revisions in each category.

  4. Concepts and definitions

    The public sector comprises central government, local government and public corporations as defined for the UK National Accounts. The Public Sector Classification Guide is published monthly by ONS, which provides information on the classification of organisations and institutions in the National Accounts.

    The public sector employment estimates relate to the number of people employed according to returns from relevant organisations, but they include a number of workers with a second job in the public sector whose main job is in the private sector or in a separate public sector organisation. The private sector estimate, which is obtained by taking the difference between the Labour Force Survey estimate of people employed in the whole economy and the public sector total, will thus tend to be correspondingly understated by a small percentage.

    Headcount estimates are based on the number of employees with an employment contract who are being paid by the organisation. Employees can be permanent, on a fixed-term contract or employed on a casual basis. Self-employed, contract workers and agency workers are excluded.

    Permanent employees, as defined in Tables 8 and 10, are employees with a contract with no agreed expiry date or a fixed-term contract of more than 12 months. Temporary or casual employees are those with a fixed-term contract of 12 months or less or employed on a casual basis.

    As well as the headcount estimates, estimates have also been produced for the number of employees in full-time equivalents (FTE) back to 1999. This is based on converting part-time employees’ hours into a full-time employees’ equivalent and provides a better indication of total labour input than a simple headcount.

    Central government includes all administrative departments of government and other central agencies and Non-Departmental Public Bodies. As such it is wider than the Civil Service. This sector also includes HM Forces and the National Health Service (NHS). Within education, academies and free schools are classified to central government.

    Local government covers those types of public administration that only cover a locality and any bodies controlled and mainly financed by them. The sub-sector includes all areas of administrative authorities including parish councils, though these units are not covered by the current estimates for local authorities. It includes police forces and their civilian staff. All functions of local authorities are classified to the sub-sector, although trading activities that produce market output (for example, housing and municipally owned markets) are regarded as quasi-corporations and appear under public corporations. Local education authorities are part of local government, as are voluntary aided schools, county schools and, from September 1999, foundation schools (formerly grant-maintained).

    Public corporations are companies or quasi-corporations controlled by government, for example London Underground Ltd. These companies receive more than half their income from sales of goods or services into the market place.

    The estimates of Civil Service employees count all home Civil Service employees. Civil Service employees can be classified to central government or public corporations. Examples of public corporations include the UK Intellectual Property Office and the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency. Civil Service estimates exclude the Northern Ireland Civil Service and other Crown servants. Employees in these groups are included in estimates of central government employment.

  5. Accuracy

    Response rates:

    PSE statistics are compiled from a range of sources. The primary source is the Quarterly Public Sector Employment Survey (QPSES). The QPSES comprises three separate data collections; the home Civil Service, Local Authorities in England and Wales, and Great Britain public corporations and Non-Departmental Public Bodies (NDPBs). Returned questionnaires go through a series of automated validation tests to check for completeness and consistency and to identify any significant movements compared with the previous period reported (and the same period the previous year). The automated checks are followed up with respondents where errors are detected or further explanation is required. The target is to clear 95% of test failures prior to processing results. ONS response targets for each of the three surveys ahead of compiling results are 85% (number of respondents) and 90% (of total employment). In addition, each survey has a list of critical respondents (usually those with the largest employment) for which special efforts are made to achieve 100% response and clearance of test failures.

    Table 1: Response rates for sources of UK public sector employment, September 2015

              Response (% of questionnaires returned) Response (% of employment returned)
    Local Authorities Survey 95 94
    Public Bodies Survey 92 96
    Civil Service Survey 100 100
    Other Sources (see below) 100 100

    Table source: Office for National Statistics

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    Data for non-responders are imputed based on previous returns and known annual changes in seasonality. It is extremely rare for a local authority, public body or Civil Service department to non-respond for two consecutive quarters. The data collection is statutory for local authorities and public bodies (Statistics of Trade Act 1947) and positive action is taken to address non-response issues as and when they occur.

    So that estimates of total public sector employment can be made, it is necessary for further information to be gathered from external sources.

    Table 2: External sources of data for UK public sector employment statistics, September 2015

       Geographic coverage Source
    Central government
    HM Forces  UK Ministry of Defence: DASA
    National Health Service  England Health and Social Care Information Centre 
    Wales NHS Wales Informatics Service
    Scotland Scottish Government
    Northern Ireland Department of Finance and Personnel
    Academies England School Workforce Census and list of all open academies (Department for Education)
    Police (including civilians) Scotland Scottish Government
    Police (British Transport Police) England and Wales Home Office
    Other central government Great Britain Quarterly Public Sector Employment Survey (ONS)
    Northern Ireland Department of Finance and Personnel
    Local government
    Local authorities England and Wales Quarterly Public Sector Employment Survey (ONS)
    Scotland Joint Staffing Watch (Scottish Government)
    Northern Ireland Department of Finance and Personnel
    Police (including civilians) England and Wales Home Office
    Northern Ireland Department of Finance and Personnel
    Public corporations
    Great Britain Quarterly Public Sector Employment Survey (ONS)
      Northern Ireland Department of Finance and Personnel

    Table source: Office for National Statistics

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    ONS also produces regional estimates of PSE based on returns from public sector organisations (Table 6). These supersede those produced using the Labour Force Survey (LFS) which previously had been used in conjunction with national PSE estimates to produce estimates by region.

  6. Coherence

    Estimates of public sector employment for June 2015 to September 2015 are based partly on projections for some sources. As part of the development programme to improve the quality of public sector employment estimates, public sector organisations are working towards the production of timely quarterly estimates. Until this development programme is completed, there remains a requirement to include estimates for certain sources:

    1. Police (including civilians) workforce estimates for England and Wales are published every six months (for two quarters) by the Home Office.

    2. NHS workforce statistics for England are derived from a pay system which covers all but two English NHS organisations. This produces very good estimates of staff numbers. Figures for the two other organisations are estimated based on annual NHS Workforce Census figures. This new source of estimates will reduce the need to revise estimates in the future.

    All time series in the Public Sector Employment release, except for the regional series, are seasonally adjusted to aid interpretation. As seasonal adjustment does not preserve additivity within aggregation structures, relationships that hold in the unadjusted series do not necessarily hold for the seasonally adjusted series. For example, total public sector employment equals the sum total of all public sector industry estimates before seasonal adjustment, but this is not necessarily true after seasonal adjustment.

    The estimates of public sector employment in education (SIC division 85) differ from the school workforce estimates published by the Department for Education (DfE) mainly as a result of differences in coverage and data sources. DfE estimates focus on the number of FTE teachers and support staff for England only. By comparison, the ONS estimates are derived by allocating local authority employees to education using the Inter-Departmental Business Register (IDBR) and the QPSES in England and Wales. The DfE School Workforce Census school level estimates are used to estimate employment in academies in England. PSE estimates include all employees reported by local authorities as working in primary, secondary and adult education establishments including some groups who are not covered by the DfE statistics, such as adult education staff and certain categories of support staff. Employment estimates for education in Scotland and Northern Ireland are also included to give a wider UK coverage. The different coverage of the ONS and DfE education statistics serve the needs of different users. Those who require information on the workforce in England who are directly involved in pupils' teaching and learning should use DfE published statistics. Users should also refer to DfE published statistics to gauge trends in education employment. Those who seek data on UK public sector employment in education, in its widest sense, should use the ONS data in this release. For further information on the differences between DfE and ONS data on education please see pages 44 to 46 of the Public Sector Employment Trends 2005 article published in October 2005.

    ONS estimates for the NHS also differ from the headline figure produced by the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC). Again, this reflects the wider UK coverage (HSCIC figures are for England only) plus the exclusion by ONS of general practitioners (GPs). ONS, in accordance with National Accounts practice, classifies GPs as part of the private sector. ONS also include hospital practitioners and clinical assistants who work in hospitals on a salaried pay scale but generally work as GPs leading the HSCIC to exclude them from their totals to avoid double counting. When these factors are allowed for, ONS and NHS data can be shown to be identical.

    Machinery of government changes in the period since 1 October 2014 are listed here:

    Table 3: Machinery of government changes, 1 October 2014 to 30 September 2015

    Organisation name Details
    National Archives The sponsoring department of the National Archives changed from the Ministry of Justice to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport on 17 September 2015.
    Defence Support Group On 1 April 2015, approximately 2,000 employees within Defence Support Group (DSG) were privatised and transferred to the private sector via Babcock. The remaining approximately 450 employees covering the Defence Electronic Components Agency (DECA) transferred to the Ministry of Defence.
    Defence Equipment and Support Defence Equipment and Support, an arm's length body of the Ministry of Defence, is reported as a bespoke trading entity from June 2015. Prior to this it was included in the Ministry of Defence. 
    Food and Environment Research Agency On 1 April 2015 the business and operations of the Food and Environment Research Agency (FERA), an Executive Agency of Defra, transferred to Fera Science Limited (FSL), a joint venture between Defra and Capita. As a result, around 580 employees left the Civil Service.
    Food Standards Scotland On 1 April 2015 Food Standards Scotland was established as a non-ministerial office, part of the Scottish Administration, alongside, but separate from, the Scottish Government, accounting for around 160 employees. At the same time, around 130 staff transferred from the Food Standards Agency to Food Standards Scotland.
    Government Internal Audit Agency The Government Internal Audit Agency, an executive agency sponsored by HM Treasury, launched on 1 April 2015. It accounts for around 130 employees.
    Government Legal Department The Treasury Solicitor became the Government Legal Department on 1 April 2015. Around 70 staff transferred from the Ministry of Defence to the Government Legal Department during June 2015.
    Highways Agency On 1 April 2015 the Highways Agency became Highways England, a government owned company, and ceased to be part of the Civil Service. As a result, around 3,750 employees moved to the wider public sector.
    National Measurement and Regulation Office The National Measurement Office became the National Measurement and Regulation Office on 1 April 2015.
    Office of Rail and Road  The Office of Rail Regulation became the Office of Rail and Road on 1 April 2015.
    Oil and Gas Authority The Oil and Gas Authority, an executive agency sponsored by the Department of Energy & Climate Change, was established on 1 April 2015, accounting for around 100 employees. At the same time, around 60 employees transferred from the Department of Energy and Climate Change to the Oil and Gas Authority.
    Ordnance Survey Ordnance Survey became a government owned company on 1 April 2015, at which point it ceased to be part of the Civil Service. Around 1,230 employees moved from the Civil Service to the wider public sector.
    Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service The Scottish Court Service became the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service on 1 April 2015. At the same time around 90 staff transferred from the Scottish Government to the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service.
    Scottish Government Approximately 30 staff transferred out to a new public body Revenue Scotland as of the 1st January 2015.
    Revenue Scotland Revenue Scotland was established on 1st January 2015.
    Rural Payments Agency (RPA) Approximately 110 staff from DEFRA transferred into RPA in December 2014.
    Treasury Solicitor Approximately of 100 staff moved from the Department of Transport to Treasury Solicitor between October and December 2014.
    Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) Approximately 40 staff transferred from the Animal Plant and Health Agency (APHA) to DEFRA in October 2014.
    The Food & Environment Research Agency (FERA) Approximately 200 staff moved from the Food and Environment Research Agency (FERA) to APHA in October 2014.
    Her Majesty's Passport Office (HMPO)  HMPO lost its agency status on 1 October 2014. All HMPO employees are now included in the main Home Office figures from December 2014.

    Table source: Office for National Statistics

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  7. Methods

    Improvements to the way employment in public sector education in England is estimated were first implemented as part of the PSE, Q3 2012 release. Revisions to the estimates caused by these improvements were at that time incorporated into the revised PSE series, in line with the revisions policy for public sector employment statistics (26.4 Kb Pdf) . Further details of the change in method and the impact on estimates of PSE are available in 'Public Sector Employment Statistics - Change in Method for Estimating Employment in Education in England', published as part of the Public Sector Employment, Q3 2012 release.

  8. Reclassifications

    In recent years the public and private sector employment series have been affected by a number of major reclassifications where bodies employing large numbers of people have moved between the public and private sectors. These major reclassifications are as follows:

    • Further education corporations and sixth form college corporations in England are included in the private sector from June 2012 but in the public sector for earlier time periods. More information on this decision can be found in the Reclassification of Further Education Corporations and Sixth Form Colleges in England article published on 31 May 2012.

    • Royal Mail plc is included in the private sector from December 2013 but in the public sector for earlier time periods.

    • Lloyds Banking Group plc is included in the public sector from December 2008 to December 2013 but in the private sector for earlier and subsequent periods.

    • Royal Bank of Scotland plc is included in the public sector from December 2008 but in the private sector for earlier time periods.

    • Network Rail is included in the private sector before December 2002. From December 2002 onwards it is included in the public sector (except for the period from June 2003 to March 2004, when it is included in the private sector). More information can be found in the Classification of Network Rail under European System of Accounts 2010 published in December 2013.

    • Northern Rock is included in the public sector from December 2007 until December 2011 but in the private sector for earlier and later time periods.

    • Bradford and Bingley is included in the public sector from September 2008 but in the private sector for earlier time periods.

    • Welsh further education colleges were reclassified to the private sector on 27 January 2015. They are included in the private sector from March 2015 but in the public sector for earlier time periods.

    Comparisons of public and private sector employment over time are complicated by a number of changes to the composition of these sectors over this period with several large employers moving between the public and private sectors. ONS therefore publish estimates of public and private sector employment excluding the effects of major reclassifications alongside estimates of total public and private sector employment in Tables 5, 6a and 7a of the PSE release.

    On 13 October 2010, ONS announced the reclassification of further education colleges and sixth form college corporations to the public sector. As part of the December 2010 publication, ONS took on employment estimates for further education colleges back to 1993 or their inception if later.

    On 31 May 2012, ONS announced the reclassification of English further education colleges and sixth form college corporations to the private sector, as Non-Profit Institutions Serving Households (NPISH), effective from 1 April 2012. As such, employment estimates for English further education colleges and sixth form college corporations are included in ONS estimates of public sector employment from 1993 or their inception if later, up to and including March 2012.

    English further education colleges and English sixth form college corporations estimates of employment are not included in public sector employment estimates from June 2012 onwards.

  9. Publication policy

    The complete run of public sector employment data in the tables of this statistical bulletin is also available to view and download in other electronic formats free of charge using the ONS Time Series Data website service. Users can download the complete Public Sector Employment Time Series in a choice of zipped formats, or view and download their own selections of individual series.

    A list of those given pre-publication access to the contents of this release is published as part of this release.

  10. As stated earlier in the bulletin the employment figures provided are point-in-time estimates and for this reason, ONS introduced a new naming convention for the releases, whereby the latest month of measurement is highlighted rather than the quarter.

  11. Copyright

    © Crown copyright 2015

    You may use or re-use this information (not including logos) free of charge in any format or medium, under the terms of the Open Government Licence. To view this licence, visit www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/doc/open-government-licence/ or write to the Information Policy Team, The National Archives, Kew, London TW9 4DU, or email: psi@nationalarchives.gsi.gov.uk.

    This document is also available on our website at www.ons.gov.uk

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    Designation can be broadly interpreted to mean that the statistics:

    • meet identified user needs;
    • are well explained and readily accessible;
    • are produced according to sound methods; and
    • are managed impartially and objectively in the public interest.

    Once statistics have been designated as National Statistics it is a statutory requirement that the Code of Practice shall continue to be observed.

Statistical contacts

Name Phone Department Email
Mark Williams +44 (0)1633 456728 Labour Market pse@ons.gsi.gov.uk
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