Page last updated at 06:26 GMT, Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Huge public sector job cuts urged to ease debt

Hospital operating theatre
The NHS workforce has grown 30% in a decade, Reform says

At least one million public sector jobs should be cut to ease the public debt, according to the Reform think tank.

The centre-right group says the NHS and the police service should be among the areas hit hardest, having previously enjoyed big workforce increases.

Reform also attacks government and Tory pledges to protect front-line jobs, saying those make up the majority of public sector posts and must be cut.

Unison union said the financial sector should pay more towards the deficit.

The three main political parties have suggested holding back public sector pay rises, but have not proposed widespread cuts to public sector jobs.

"They prefer to talk about making efficiency savings and trimming back office functions," says BBC political correspondent Ross Hawkins.

He says many politicians will fight shy of promising to make redundant the people taxpayers see delivering public services.

But Reform argues that "the public deficit cannot be reduced sufficiently without tackling the front line".

It says public sector employment costs need to fall by 15% - equivalent to one million jobs, and saving £27bn a year - to eliminate the government deficit in coming years.

Public sector borrowing

Reform director Andrew Haldenby said: "Politicians have to be more honest with the public about what needs to happen if they are to reduce the deficit. Radical change won't happen if they see their role as the defenders of the status quo.

"The public sector workforce has to shrink to become as productive as the private sector. This must be an essential part of the plan to reduce the deficit that Alistair Darling should announce in his pre-Budget report."

Unison spokeswoman Mary Maguire said cutting public services was not the answer to the huge deficit.

"What Reform needs to do is go back to the drawing board and find a way to get the bankers, financial institutions and tax avoiders to pay their fair share of taxation," she said.

The chancellor delivers his pre-Budget report on Wednesday, when he is expected to confirm annual borrowing will top £175bn.

The government has promised to halve that figure within four years.

On Monday, Gordon Brown said overpaid public sector workers would be "named and shamed" in efforts to deliver more value for money in public services.

The prime minister said "efficiency savings" would help to save £12bn over four years - £3bn more than planned in the Budget.

Print Sponsor

Brown targets public sector pay
07 Dec 09 |  UK Politics
Cable seeks public sector pay cap
07 Dec 09 |  UK Politics
Tough choices for UK's public finances
06 Dec 09 |  Business
Tories 'to squeeze public sector'
27 Nov 09 |  UK Politics

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Sign in

BBC navigation

Copyright © 2020 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific