Treasury has the youngest officials

Treasury building

"Work with some of the country's brightest people." That's the slogan enticing job applicants on the recruitment pages of the Treasury's website.

So the clever folk running the nation's finances are clearly not keen on modesty - but are they lacking in maturity?

The Treasury is the government department with the youngest staff on average.

This has been established by a BBC Freedom of Information survey, which discovered that the average age of Treasury officials was just 35.

In contrast, at the other end of the spectrum, the averages for the Ministry of Defence and the Department of Work and Pensions are 47 and 48 respectively.

These facts will confirm the doubts of some of the Treasury's critics, who distrust its influence at the heart of Whitehall.

A few weeks ago, the former cabinet minister Iain Duncan Smith said that the Treasury was "the worst thing we have in Britain".

During his time in government as work and pensions secretary, he clashed repeatedly with the Treasury over his plans to change benefits policy.

Lack of expertise

In his recent remarks, Mr Duncan Smith complained the Treasury was too powerful, dominated by junior civil servants who moved jobs every two years and had no collective memory, adding: "The average age in the Treasury is 27."

He might have been exaggerating that detail, but there was a point behind his assertions.

In 2012, the Treasury published a review of how it had handled the 2007-09 international financial crisis.

This identified youthfulness, inexperience, short job tenure and lack of expertise as some of the organisational factors that had hampered the department's capability to respond fully to the economic calamities of the time.

"There's a reality to this, but it's wrong to say the Treasury is not addressing it," says Julian McCrae, of the Institute of Government, which has conducted its own analysis of other age profile data about the civil service.

"The Treasury recruits bright young officials, but they then move on.

"Some of this is to do with pay levels.

"It admits it has too much turnover, but it's working hard to improve skills and capability."

This table gives the mean age for staff in each government department, as obtained by the BBC's Freedom of Information requests.

Average age of staff in government departments
Department Mean age
Treasury 35
Wales Office 36
Attorney General's Office 39
Cabinet Office 39
Energy and Climate Change 39
Culture, Media and Sport 40
Education 41
Scotland Office 41
Foreign Office 42
International Development 42
Communities and Local Government 43
Health 43
Home Office 43
Justice 43
Transport 43
Business, Innovation and Skills 44
Environment, Food and Rural Affairs 44
Northern Ireland Office 44
Defence 47
Work and Pensions 48

The bright young people at the Treasury did not respond to a request for comment.

  • You can follow Martin Rosenbaum on Twitter as @rosenbaum6

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites