PCS SLAMS £15bn CUTS PLAN

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THE Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) warned that further spending cuts will damage services and jeopardise the delivery of government policies as it responded to budget speculation that the government will cut spending by £15 billion.

The Chancellor has already announced £5 billion of so-called ‘efficiency savings’ across civil service departments with speculation mounting that he will announce a further £10 billion of cuts in tomorrow’s budget.

Civil and public services have already been hit by spending cuts in real terms and ‘efficiency savings’ which have led to over 80,000 job losses and hundreds of office closures.

Key areas such a tax, Jobcentres and justice have all been affected. 25,000 jobs are to go and 200 offices are to close in Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) by 2011.

500 Jobcentres and benefit offices have closed over the last five years hampering the government’s ability to respond to recession, and the justice system is in danger of delays and backlogs as the Ministry of Justice faces a year-on-year cut to its budget in real terms.

Commenting, Mark Serwotka, PCS general secretary, said: ‘Further so-called efficiency savings should not be at the expense of jobs and services. The government should be targeting the billions of taxpayers’ money wasted on the army of consultants.

‘We have already seen the impact of cutting services to the bone in areas such as Jobcentres, whose tireless work has been hampered by a history of job cuts and office closures.

‘Further spending cuts will jeopardise the delivery of frontline services which people are increasingly relying on as the recession deepens.’

l The CWU postal workers union is meanwhile adamant that the government ‘sell-off’ sums concerning the proposed part-privatisation of Royal Mail do not add up.

The union has welcomed the research by Compass which shows the Treasury stands to lose £900 million in a sell-off of Royal Mail.

Billy Hayes, CWU general secretary, said: ‘Compass have clearly shown the sums don’t add up when it comes to selling off Royal Mail.

‘Royal Mail is an asset to this government and this country and must remain in full public ownership.’

l ‘We cannot afford a “do nothing” budget for children’ said the Child Poverty Action Group which yesterday pointed out that a new league table of child well-being in European countries, showed the UK in 24th place out of 29 countries.

Chief Executive Kate Green said: ‘We need a frank focus on why other countries are doing so much better for their children. Public resolve and political action to put children first are more important than another round of hand-wringing.’

She continued: ‘We need to rethink the place of children in today’s Britain and ensure the right to a good childhood is central to our national culture.

‘The report shows a clear link between high levels of child well-being and low levels of child poverty.

‘If we fail to protect families during the downturn, progress on child well-being could go into reverse.

‘The Chancellor must take the final steps needed to keep the promise to halve child poverty by 2010.’