Government grafters

I wonder what kind of answers I'd get if I was to stop ten people in the street and ask them how many people are directly employed as civil servants by the Welsh government.

We don't talk that much about centrally employed civil servants despite the fact that we talk about the public sector workforce all the time.

In July 2009 it was 6,490 before dropping to a low of 5,386 in December 2011 and then rising to the current number of 5,777.

Over the past two years there's been an increase of 7% which is just under 400. Around 150 of those were apprentices, among the rest was a 20% increase in lawyers to deal with new law-making powers, and a 30% rise in planning positions which the Welsh government says is intended to speed up job creation.

These figures are available for all to see on the Welsh government's website.

The Welsh government says its response to the cuts was to go hard and early with the decision to reduce the headcount by 1,100 in 2009.

It may seem odd then to follow what was presumably an expensive voluntary redundancy process with the recruitment of nearly 400 people relatively quickly.

The Welsh government's response is that it has restructured and is now responding to the new powers that are on their way to Cardiff Bay from Westminster.

For example some of these positions are connected with the formation of a Welsh treasury.

New powers require more staff.

In Scotland the figures there have been much more consistent.

In the first quarter of 2009, 5,100 people were directly employed by the Scottish Government (excluding agencies) and the figure for the third quarter of 2013 was 5,100.