Page last updated at 01:35 GMT, Friday, 19 February 2010

Public sector staff warning of 'crippling' budget cuts

Commuters in London
There have been warnings of huge jobs in the public sector

Frontline services risk being "crippled" by budget cuts over the next year, public sector managers have said.

Research by the Institute of Leadership and Management indicated that nine out of ten managers expected "major cuts" in jobs and training in 2011.

Cuts were already happening, it added, dispelling the "myth" the public sector had been "untouched" by the recession.

Ministers have said frontline services will be protected but warned budgets of low-priority programmes may be cut.

'Staff wellbeing'

All the main parties have warned that the public sector must bear its share of pain in the medium term as part of efforts to bring down borrowing levels which have soared due to the bank bail-out and the collapse of tax revenues during the recession.

If elected, the Tories have said they will freeze public sector pay for one year from 2011-12, exempting workers earning less than £18,000.

Chancellor Alistair Darling has recommended a pay freeze for 40,000 senior public servants next year.

Canvassing 1,500 public sector managers, the Institute of Leadership and Management found that two out of three had seen budget cuts in their departments over the past year.

Two thirds said their staff were operating at full capacity, with little or no scope for further efficiency savings.

If budgets continued to be "salami-sliced", there was a danger staff morale and health could be damaged.

"The research dispels many of the myths about the public sector and its managers, including the belief that it has remained untouched by the economic downturn," said Penny de Valk, the Institute's chief executive.

"The fallout from the recession has already affected budgets and resourcing levels and will continue to do so, potentially at the expense of crucial public services and staff wellbeing."

As many as 350,000 public sector jobs could be lost over the next five years, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) warned last year.

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