Chancellor Osborne yesterday announced the first £6.2bn of savage cuts planned by the Tory coalition.
At a press conference, Osborne confined himself to generalities, then handed over to Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Liberal Democrat David Laws ‘who will take you through the detail’.
However, Laws’ speech was lacking in detail in terms of jobs and service affected. Previous chancellor Darling commented afterwards: ‘Laws must know how many jobs are going to go, tell us. We need to know the detail of the £6bn – how it will have an effect on growth, have an effect on jobs.’
He demanded that Laws come before parliament where the cuts can be examined in detail.
Missing from Laws’ speech was the massive attack on manufacturing jobs. But the Business Department confirmed yesterday that all loan guarantees made by previous Business Secretary Mandelson are under review, and could be cancelled.
These include a £270m loan guarantee to GMM Luton, £370m of guarantees to Ford, a £90m loan to Sheffield Forgemasters and a £20m loan to Nissan.
A Business Department spokeswoman told News Line ‘the Treasury will review them and decide whether they are value for money’.
In his speech, Laws announced that 2010/11 ‘efficiency savings’ in the Health, International Development, and Defence departments ‘are not included in the £6.243bn.
‘All other departments will make the following savings in 2010/11: Department for Transport: £683m; Communities and Local Government: £780m; Local Government DEL (Department for Employment and Learning): £405m.
‘Business: £836m; Home Office: £367m; Department for Education: £670m; Ministry of Justice: £325m.
‘Law Officers’ Departments: £18m; Foreign Office: £55m; Department of Energy and Climate Change: £85m.
‘Environment, Food and Rural Affairs: £162m; Culture, Media and Sport: £88m.
‘Work and Pensions: £535m; Chancellor’s Departments: £451m; Cabinet Office: £79m; Devolved Administrations: £704m; Departmental control totals will be adjusted at the Budget.’
He also announced ‘savings’ of £600m from cutting the costs of quangos; £170m from reductions in property costs; £95m from IT; and at least £120m from freezing Civil Service recruitment.
He added that ‘in order to ensure that we take immediate action to control pay costs, outstanding Civil Service pay remits for this year will need my approval before they are agreed.’
Civil servants union the Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) general secretary Mark Serwotka said: ‘We do not accept that huge spending cuts are necessary or desirable, and we do not believe it is credible for the government to say it can protect public sector jobs and services while taking the axe to departments in this way.
‘These cuts will damage the economy, will undoubtedly lead to people losing their jobs, and will put the delivery of vital public services at serious risk at a time when they are most needed.’
TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said: ‘The cuts announced today are deeply worrying. With the UK economy and the economies of our trading partners in Europe so fragile, this is not the right time to be cutting back.’
Christine Blower, General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said: ‘It is of great concern that the government has announced £1.165 billion cuts to Local Government funding by reducing Local Authority grants.
‘This could have a direct impact on the many essential services that LAs provide to schools and therefore a direct impact on schools and pupils.’
The National Union of Students (NUS) expressed ‘disappointment’ that higher education had once again been singled out for reductions in funding. The fresh round of cuts follows the £1bn which was slashed from government funding of the sector last year.