Public sector faces 40% cuts

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THE Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) yesterday warned that the public sector, excluding the NHS and education, faces an ‘alarming’ 40 per cent cut in workers in the next five years.

The IFS finds that the public sector workforce is rapidly shrinking and further reductions could be up to 30-40 per cent outside the ‘protected’ areas of education and NHS.

Public spending cuts will also hit the poorest parts of Britain hardest.

The cuts will dwarf the fall of 350,000 workers seen in the 1990s and more than undo the increase of over 600,000 seen during the 2000s.

Unite assistant general secretary Gail Cartmail said: ‘These job cuts, which will be on an alarming scale, will hit the poorest communities hardest. The people of this country want and need public services.

‘For every £1 local government workers receive in earnings they spend 52p in their local area.

‘Job cuts are already choking economic growth, and the regions with the largest falls in public sector employment are not seeing the strongest growth in private sector employment.

‘The government’s continued ideological attack on public services will damage the economy and our communities.

‘In a typical disregard for equality from the Tories, women who make up two thirds of the public sector workforce are being hit hardest by low pay and five years of real-terms pay cuts.

‘Public sector workers are now £2,000 a year worse-off in real terms since the coalition took office.

‘Unite says pay up for public services – our communities want and need it.’

The IFS warns: ‘With the government in the process of making significant cuts in departmental spending as part of a fiscal consolidation aimed at helping to bring the public finances back on to a sustainable path, cuts to the total pay bill and workforce are essentially unavoidable.’

The IFS executive summary says: ‘The public sector workforce stood at around 5.7 million in mid-2013, and made up just under 20% of total employment, lower than at any point in at least the last 40 years.

‘The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) forecasts further cuts in general government employment, reaching 1.1 million by 2018-19 compared with 2010-11.

‘This would take the share of the workforce working in general government to just 14.8%, compared with 19-20% during the late 1990s and 2000s.’

The briefing warns: ‘At the extreme, if there were no reductions to the education and NHS workforces between mid-2013 and 2018-19, the OBR’s forecasts could only be borne out if the rest of general government shrank by 40%.

‘Even if education and NHS were cut by 200,000 from mid-2013 to 2018–19, the cuts to the rest of general government would still need to be about 30%.’

It adds that ‘regions with the largest falls in public employment are not seeing the strongest growth in private sector employment.

‘There have been big increases in private sector employees delivering services historically dominated by the public sector.’