Brown Attacks The Public Sector

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Prime Minister Brown yesterday outlined plans to slash government employees’ jobs and pay.

He said public sector workers earning an ‘over-generous’ salary would be ‘named and shamed’, claiming many had ‘lost touch’ with normality.

During a speech titled ‘Putting the frontline first: Smarter Government’, Brown said that ‘this plan, which is just one element of our efforts to reduce the deficit, will go further than we have ever gone before in streamlining central government.

‘We have already promised savings of £35bn a year by 2011 on top of the £26.5bn a year already delivered through the Gershon review.

‘But by identifying new ways of working, and being prepared to make the tough choices, we can deliver in excess of another £12bn in efficiency savings over the next four years.

‘This includes £3bn of new efficiency savings identified since the budget, of which over £1.3bn will come from streamlining central government.’

He said that ‘our aim is, within the next five years, to shift the great majority of our large transactional services to become online only.

‘And because of these changes, and others I will outline, I can also show how more resources will be switched from the back office to the front line.

‘Wherever it will improve efficiency and value for money, departments will be required to share services adopt common purchasing policies; use office space more effectively; reduce quangos and sell off assets we do not need.’

He announced plans to:

• Cut the senior civil service pay bill by up to 20 per cent over three years to ‘release savings’ of £100m a year.

• Halve Whitehall spending on consultancy, and reduce spending on marketing by a quarter, in total, an annual saving of £650m.

• Merge or abolish 123 government arms length bodies with the remainder subjected to greater oversight, with a view to save a further £500m a year.

• Relocate more staff outside London and the south east.

Civil service unions, whose members are already getting it in the neck, reacted furiously.

The PCS said: ‘The report comes days after unilateral changes to the civil service compensation scheme which are aimed at cutting civil and public service jobs on the cheap.’

Mark Serwotka, PCS general secretary, said: ‘This really is a case of deja vu, with cuts once again dressed up as efficiencies.

‘What we are seeing today is the continuation of a bidding war on who can cut the most with little thought for the impact on public services.

‘Added to which you have the government preparing for the sale of the century with a fire sale of key assets and agencies.

‘Cutting arms-length bodies may sound all well and good, but let’s not forget that these are organisations that the government themselves set up and include organisations such as Jobcentre Plus.

‘Whilst not against relocation in principle, they should not be forced, hit the Black and Minority Ethnic community disproportionately or be based on flimsy business plans which offer no value to the taxpayer.’

He concluded: ‘Those who caused the financial crisis should pay their fair share, not public services and the people who deliver them.’