Chancellor Gordon Brown has defended his plans to cut more than 100,000 civil servants to fund his proposals to increase public spending by 2.8% over the next three years.
In his comprehensive Spending Review he allocated an extra £3.7bn for defence, a £300m rise in environment spending and has promised a 50% rise in social housing by 2008.
But in order to make savings he will cut 84,150 civil service jobs in England, and a further 20,000 in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Union leaders say the cuts will cause "carnage" and have warned they cannot rule out industrial action.
But Mr Brown said he would not be "diverted from what needs to be done to get more resources to the frontline".
Do you support the job cuts? Do you think the cuts can be made? Or do you agree with the Tory's claim that Mr Brown is only trying to grab headlines, rather than propose far-reaching reform?
The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we have received so far:
As a civil servant and lifelong Labour supporter, I am disgusted at the way we 'pen pushers' are being treated. We are providing a much needed service which many people in the country rely on. We have to put up with verbal abuse on a daily basis, deal with alcoholics, drug-users and people with mental health problems, both by telephone and face to face. We have had to manage hundreds of procedure changes, and use appalling IT systems. We are constantly being told we are overstaffed and have had cuts already, leading to thousands of pieces of outstanding work, just in one section. All this for £12,000 a year! It'll be interesting to see how the government will manage to keep the benefits system afloat.
Rebecca, Hastings, E. Sussex, UK
How does Gordon Brown hope to achieve these savings? If he makes these staff redundant he will face immense redundancy costs. If he out-sources the work then TUPE will apply and the new contractors will have to pay the staff the same as they receive now. I'm afraid it simply doesn't add up - just another example of Government spin.
Danny, London, England
It is very narrow minded for people to claim that all civil servants are faceless wasters who have never done an honest days work in their lives. Any how utterly patronising to be told 'welcome to the real world.' This is the real world and these 'pen-pushers' help it to go round by collecting your taxes, paying your benefits, and generally implementing government policy on matters as diverse as fisheries to e-government. Yes there may be room for cuts, and there may be those who don't pull their weight but this is true of the private as well as the public sector. That is the real world.
These 'cuts', certainly in my area of the civil service, are merely the result of outsourcing initiatives that have been on the cards for some time. It means that the government will be able to claim to have reduced the size of the civil service while really paying large sums of money to private companies to do the same job - therefore saving no money! Just as the Tories did in the '80s.
He grins as he announces the end of the livelihoods of 100,000 people. The work they do will not go away, but "casual" and temporary employees will be brought in to fill the gaps. The only people to benefit will be the agencies who supply the "contractors". And this is supposed to be a "Labour" government?
Peter Benjamin, Croydon, England
Wrong, wrong, wrong, the government should be targeting fraud. Billions are lost to benefits fraud every year. While working for the Inland Revenue I learnt a very interesting statistic. If the private sector paid their taxes instead of dodging them the basic rate of tax would be just 5%. What do all you morally superior private sector workers think about that?
Good news if you honestly believe that the civil service is bloated. However, as an ex-civil servant I know the truth. I left the civil service because despite working 7 days a week for 2 years, I still had a 3-month backlog of work due to the government's cost cutting exercises. Now I work a straight 9-5 in the private sector and I get double the pay.
Paul B, Preston, UK
I recognise that most civil servants do have a purpose and some of them work hard, but I think that Brown is right - there probably are 100,000 of them that have no real use. However, what we should really be looking at is the amount of money wasted by local government, which is absolutely huge. In real terms, we haven't really advanced from the feudal system - we are simply ruled by councils instead of Lords.
Lloyd Evans, Brighton, UK
Can we sack the House of Commons? I am sure that cancelling all the junkets could pay off the debts. Could we also save the 12 billion by not buying military projects that don't work? If a government can identify 24 billion in waste, it means the Government is incompetent. Can we surcharge all of these politicians and prevent them from standing in elections?
Tony, Welling Kent
Gordon Brown's shamefully smug display on breakfast TV this morning was disgraceful. He's obviously taken on board the advice dispensed to senior managers in DWP on how to deliver bad news - display open body language and make sure you're smiling when you sack hundreds of staff. I wonder if the news of 104,000 job losses in the private sector would have been met with such glee. I doubt it. But we're only civil servants after all, so we don't matter, do we???
Liz, Wales, UK
I think it is time some money was spent on London Crossrail. This project is an investment in the UK's future and will bring in far more money than is spent on it!!
Ben, Cardiff, UK
My wife works for the National Assembly for Wales, where morale is already rock bottom. If she is made redundant, it will cost the taxpayer £42,000 to pay her off. So how does Brown reckon he will save £21 bn with these cuts?
I understand the anger generated by the announcement of 100,000 job losses but more to the point does anybody actually believe any of the guff that is announced at these reviews. It is another opportunity for the incumbent Chancellor and leader in waiting to say how in control he is and another opportunity for the opposition, in the months ahead to deride him for failing to meet his targets (which won't of course be his fault). It is all a load of bureaucratic nonsense.
Since Labour came to power in 1997 they created 600,000 more civil service jobs much of that was trivial so they can reduce the unemployment figures. Minimum pays, high absenteeism and increasing costs of allowance for female workers with children together with public outrage over ever spiralling increase of council tax meant its no longer economically viable to maintain a workforce that has little to do with tangible benefit to the actual service they suppose to provide.
These cuts will mean even more civil service jobs. Firstly a commission will have to be set up in order to find out which jobs can go and where. These newly appointed civil servants will not want to come to any quick decisions as they'll lose their own jobs at the end of the report. So, after a few years they will deliver a report which will reveal that all the jobs in the civil service are necessary and surprisingly even more jobs and money are needed in a under-staffed and under-funded civil service.
Mike, Chelmsford, UK
How nauseating to see the smug smiles of Brown and his cabinet colleagues as they announce the future redundancy of over 100,000 working people. I'm sure they were outraged when similar numbers of miners lost their jobs 20 years ago. What hypocrites!
We can all play the efficiency and new technology game to justify cutting jobs. With new offices and more power devolved to the regions and Europe how about reflecting these changes by doubling the size of each seat represented in the House of Commons and halving the number of MPs.
Kevin, Grays, England
I have mixed feelings about these job cuts. Working for a private sector company which deals extensively with the public sector, I see first-hand just how inefficiently many government bodies operate, and how over-staffed they often are. Projects rarely run to time or budget, and there is a general air of chaos when it comes to trying to get things done. Don't forget also that New Labour have created 344,000 public sector jobs since they came to power in 1997, so these cuts represent barely a third of the increases Mr Brown has personally overseen. On the other hand, Mr Brown managed to find £10bn for the war in Iraq, and his contemptuous, smirking attitude when announcing these cuts, and in discussions since is little short of appalling. I also feel sorry for those who are going to be affected.
Dan, Yateley, UK
Why is he smiling? Ah yes, he has just ruined the lives of 84,150 families... Good timing, right before their school breaks and summer holidays... what a lovely man.
Clive Pugh, Reading, Berkshire
On a very small scale I have proof that two people do the same job in our local Benefits Office. My elderly mother on a low pension recently moved to sheltered accommodation. Since then she has had to fill in countless forms twice over and although she gets housing benefit no one has informed our council office as she is sent a letter each week asking her to pay her rent. Perhaps if one person rather than several had their fingers in the pie my old Mum would not be pestered and harassed by inefficient departments with an obvious overlap in responsibilities.
Deb Tennant, Peterborough, UK
Great to see the whingers moaning about the increase in foreign aid: have they any idea about the poverty and starvation in e.g. Sudan or do the think that these people are not human. Keep buying your cheap coffee, trainers etc and sod the rest of the world.
I have been a Civil Servant for quite a while now and am used to being a pawn in a political game of chess. It's easy to pick on Civil Servants as we are seen as mindless bureaucrats who impose nonsensical rules on people. (Rules that we have to enforce as our political masters have imposed them on us). We are, however, normal everyday people, who can be just as frustrated as you by the amount of red tape that we have to enforce. I have a warm glow when I think about all the praise that we have received from our management recently, only to be rewarded with mass redundancies and accusations of waste. Long live Tony Blair and all his little minions!
Why is it that the general public have nothing but sympathy if a 'private sector' employee gets made redundant, but yet the announcement of 104,150 civil service employees losing their jobs makes some people jump for joy! Do these civil servants not have bills to pay and children to feed just like everybody else? Just think of how much money it will cost to pay in unemployment benefits to all these civil servants. Think about how services that you use are going to be affected. Give it another couple of years, people will be in an uproar at the appalling state of their 'services', and the Government will! be forced to start recruiting again!
Julie, Surrey, England
About time some civil service cuts were made. For years these pen pushers have just multiplied, constantly introducing more paperwork and red tape to justify their own jobs. Those that are "let go" are going to be in for a real shock when they find themselves out in the real world doing an honest days work.
Trevor, Antrim, N Ireland
To see the Chancellor and his colleagues smirking as he announces the decimation of over 100,000 jobs is an absolute disgrace. These people are not faceless bureaucrats, they deliver pensions and benefits, collect the taxes that pay for our services, stop drug smuggling and illegal immigration, the list is endless. This is a sad day for the labour movement and for public services throughout Britain.
Seamus Darcy, Sutton England
I am a Civil Servant on the front line where millions of pounds are claimed as a result of fraudulent claims. How about loosening the red tape around our necks to allow us to do our job and protect the taxpayers money. Shedding jobs isn't the answer.
Great day for spin. What has been going on for seven years? Are we really to believe that throwing money at education and health will put them right - the hospitals are not even clean despite the investment. The job cuts are unlikely to materialise even though they probably should and even if they do it is likely that new Regional Government will mop up the displaced. All talk and no delivery as always.
It's very pleasing to see Science & Engineering research getting a big boost & a 10-year plan - and not before time!
Andrew Smith (Engineer!), Leighton Buzzard, UK
There should only be the right number and type of jobs that are seriously required in the whole Public Sector, "joke" jobs should be eradicated. The government should develop the Audit Commission into a proper internal consultancy and stop wasting money on major consultancy firms. There is far too much "fat" and it needs desperately weeding out and spent where really needed.
Workers in the Private sector have to face redundancies if their companies aren't performing as they should (I have in the past) why should Public sector be any different. Many of the government departments are based on very old working practices and a lot of jobs are there simply because that is the way the department has always been run. A job for life is a thing of the past as are the current methods of working in the public sector. Welcome to the 21st century.
Simon, Oxford, England
Before Oliver Letwin condemns the government on its plans to cut Civil Service jobs, he should remember what his Government did to the print workers, miners, car workers, shipbuilders, steelworkers and dockers during their time in office.
John Clark, Southampton
All this rubbish about index-linked non-contributory pension schemes is beginning to make me angry. Yes, I'm a civil servant(at least at the moment) and yes, I have a final salary pension scheme which should give me 2/3rds of my final years salary, but I'd just like to point out that 2/3rds of virtually nothing is still virtually nothing.
Mr Simons, Exeter UK
I am a civil servant and Councils are already cutting posts but the work still needs to be done. There are already people trying to cover two jobs because we are not allowed to fill vacancies. This is only going to add to the problems. So he thinks that public services are not going to suffer in any way. When you have got staff under pressure trying to meet deadlines, being bullied into taking on extra work by senior managers because they are trying to save money, and that is happening now, what reality is he living in?
Again, people jump off at the deep end without thinking the problem. If the cuts are to be made by 2008 then natural wastage should account for most of the job losses. Jobs are then backfilled from the surplus resource areas. The chances of being made redundant are most probably remote. If we are going to cull the Civil service, we should start at the top. Although I am no supporter of Gordon Brown even I believe he intends to leave the "coal face" staffed.
If ever there was a spending review where Gordon Brown so blatantly played "Topping Yours" with the Tories this was it. a total farce, don't worry all you civil servants it's only a game, after all are they not advertising 500+ civil service jobs just for this month alone
As a tax paying civil servant for 13 years, it's warming to note that I may soon be on the dole (depending if anyone's still employed there) so I can fund an increase to foreign aid,¿ culture spending" & the war on terrorism.
Mr T, Newport, Mons
It's a shame that the cut's will have little effect on the "fat cat" consultants & senior management that the civil service lavishes money on and will only affect the staff at the "coal face" I think Brown and Blair should start worrying about how the 400 thousand civil servants and their families will vote in the next election.
Paul, South Wales
Let's face it, many of the people that could be made redundant as part of this review will actually profit from it. A lot of these jobs make the pay for shelve stackers at Kwik Save look like top earners; many of them will get more money on the dole! This begs the question of whether the Chancellor will start true global government by exporting low pay civil service jobs to India and the far east, after all the call centres are moving there, and these jobs are just as low paid!
L. Wright, Worcester, UK
Why don't all you armchair critics of public sector staff come and spend a Friday or Saturday night with me in the police custody suite where I am based and put up with the drunkenness, threats, abuse and aggression from the various delightful sections of society and then tell me and my colleagues that we don't earn our keep!!
Well, all this will mean is that council workers will be even lower paid and even less motivated. I would rather have 100,000 civil servants working and paying taxes than on the dole, which is what tabloid seem to want. £3.7bn for defence? Why! If the UK government kept its nose out of US led wars he could have spent that on education!
Spend, Spend, Spend and no one seems to have any idea where the civil service job cuts will come from. Come the election Labour will be judged on their record and these announcements for the future will count for little.
John , High Wycombe, UK
Incredible - Brown says he can save money and put off tax rises by spending more! Such is the world under a Labour government.
A. Howlett, Manchester, England
I find it typical that Gordon Brown's grinning face is on display for the nation to see just before he announces the destruction of over 100,000 careers in another New Labour spin-fest.
Andrew, Bucks, UK
I think we can probably expect some fairly hefty tax rises in the not too distant future.
Dean, Maidenhead, UK
I think its incredible that Gordon Brown should be giving foreign countries an increase in aid (by 9.6%), when he is going to be posting so many P45's. This country is going backwards, His Robin Hood policy of taking from the rich and giving to the poor was surely in the first instance, meant to help people who live here!
Alan Mitchell, Kirkcaldy, Scotland
Any reduction in the long term burden of index linked non-contributory pensions paid to civil servants can only be a good thing. Welcome to the real world guys !
Phil Thompson, Peterborough, UK
Gordon Brown is running the country's finances the way most people seem to run their personal finances. Borrow now, spend now and lets not worry about it as borrowing is cheap. Eventually the debts will have to be paid but no doubt Gordon thinks he'll be in Number 10 and have another Chancellor to blame by then.
James Mackay, Taunton, Somerset
No mention of how much it will cost to get rid of 100,000+ civil servants in terms of redundancy, pensions and the like, or of how unsuccessful most relocations outside London have been in the past. As most departments have been squeezed to lower staff numbers for many years I just can't see where they're going to find 100,000 to get rid of. Can I suggest however that they start with getting rid of the many politicians masquerading as special advisors on ridiculously high salaries rather than losing career civil servants who have put up with poor pay and working conditions for years in exchange for what they thought was job security.
David Priddy, Slough, UK
I think is a very good budget from a very good Chancellor! But face it Gordon - you will never be a Prime Minister!
The cheap headline-grabbing stunt of cutting civil service jobs will only hurt services to the public. People will face yet more delay getting benefits and pensions sorted because of understaffing. As a local government worker and UNISON activist I hope colleagues in PCS resist these cuts: they can rest assured of backing from fellow trade unionists. Enough is enough, no more cuts in services!
Ben Drake, York, UK
About time to. Now the remaining ones will have to work the same sort of hours as the rest of us tax payers. How about also moving the civil service onto the same sort of pension scheme the rest of us have to put up with and passing the savings on as a few pence off income tax.
Ben Essada, London, UK
"The end of boom & bust" will be finding its place in the great Labour waste bin of discarded slogans - remember "education education education", "government by the people for the people", and so-on.
Paul, Bracknell, UK
Funny how this is being done now with an election looming. Why wasn't this done years ago? I bet that after the election all those "sacked" will filter back to their jobs
What other employees are not consulted with prior to the announcement of massive redundancies amongst their ranks. If this was any other organisation such disgraceful management disregard for their employees would result in questions raised in Parliament and legal action.
The Chancellor could save a fortune if he stopped paying Child Benefit, financial support to employ nannies and free nursery places to families that clearly don't need it. All these things should be means tested because it's an absolute disgrace that a couple earning £100,000 a year can still claim benefits from the state. There may be complaints from the "me me me" types in their 4x4's but it would at least free up some cash for those that really need it.
Brian McCaig, Paisley, Scotland
Cracking down on absence and sickness should start with MP's. How often do we see discussions with an almost empty chamber?
Harry Brown, Washington UK
I have just resigned from a senior home office job after nine months. The Civil Service lives in a Westminster bubble and wastes billions on working groups, PR etc and this money would be better spent at a local level on real service either local charities or local government services are desperate for the kind of money that the civil service wastes
Simon Evans, Ormskirk UK
In my opinion, the current "spending review" is a farce. Brown's failure to impose value for money in previous years has created a culture where most of the "increase" will go straight into wage demands, not into services for the public.
BF, London, UK
At a time when our own services are in need of considerable improvement why are we increasing foreign aid by 9.2%?
Does this mean that (a) Labour is so inefficient that we have being employing 104,000 too many people, or (b) they are about to get rid of 104,000 people that we really need, and services will now suffer as a result. Which is it Mr Brown? Neither really looks good for Labour.
Ben, Uxbridge, UK