Page last updated at 19:52 GMT, Friday, 9 April 2010 20:52 UK

Parties accept jobs will be lost in efficiencies battle

Chancellor Alistair Darling and Shadow Chancellor George Osborne speak to the BBC's Jon Sopel

All three main parties have conceded job losses will result from cuts in public sector budgets as the row over their spending plans has continued.

The Tories have said vacant posts will be axed in order to meet their £12bn savings target next year but have ruled out any compulsory redundancies.

A senior Lib Dem MP said it was "dishonest" to pretend there would not be job losses over the next four years.

And a Labour minister said public sector employment would shrink.

On a day of tit-for-tat arguments about the parties' tax and spending plans, Labour and the Conservatives wrote to each other questioning assumptions about the amount of job losses under their proposals.

And at a rally in Scotland, Prime Minister Gordon Brown accused the Conservatives of being "at odds with the facts" and "spraying un-costed promises around the country".

In other developments on day four of the election campaign.

The first four days of the election campaign have seen Labour and the Tories clash over the planned 1% National Insurance (NI) rise next year, with each saying the others' stance on this will lead to job losses.

'Fantasy savings'

Tory leader David Cameron says it is a "tax on jobs" and shadow chancellor George Osborne has written to Chancellor Alistair Darling to question the number of jobs which will be lost, suggesting the information is being "hidden from the public".

Meanwhile, Mr Darling has contacted Mr Osborne to press him for more details on his own spending plans.

The disagreement between the two parties intensified after Conservative adviser Sir Peter Gershon, who used to do the same job for Labour, told the Financial Times that £12bn could be saved in the public sector on top of the £15bn already earmarked by Labour.

He defended Labour's economic policy and attacked the Conservatives spending plans

Up to £2bn of this could come from curbing recruitment, he told the Financial Times, a position which some experts believe would necessitate the loss of between 20,000 and 40,000 public sector jobs.

But Mr Cameron told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that the savings were "do-able" and "deliverable" adding:

"It's not talking about people losing their jobs, it's talking about not filling vacancies as they arise."

'Misery'

He said Sir Peter had outlined areas that could be cut - but a Tory government would make changes, "calmly and reasonably", in consultation with the Treasury should it win power.

He did not say how many fewer jobs there might be under a Conservative government, but made clear about 400,000 jobs became available in the public sector each year as people leave.

FROM THE TODAY PROGRAMME

Unison, which represents public sector workers, said the Tory plans "mean misery for hundreds of thousands of people who rely on public services and for the people who deliver them".

But the Tories pointed to comments by Treasury Minister Stephen Timms, who said there "will be some job losses, without a doubt", stemming from the government's own efficiency drive.

Mr Osborne said the Treasury must publish an assessment it has done of what impact the NI tax rise would have on jobs, saying ministers had admitted some employers would cut back.

"Why doesn't Alistair [Darling] publish what we know exists, which is the internal Treasury study on how many jobs will be lost as a result of the National Insurance increase?" he said.

'Salami slicing'

Lib Dem Foreign Affairs Spokesman Ed Davey said the UK had a "financial millstone" around its neck and tough decisions would be needed to reduce debt levels.

"Over the lifetime of the next Parliament....of course there are going to be some job losses and anyone who says otherwise is being dishonest," he told the BBC.

His party leader Nick Clegg told GMTV he would make some job cuts, highlighting the number of "bureaucrats" in the NHS.

"These are pen pushers in the NHS, get rid of them so we can use the money... to protect the A&E departments, the maternity units, the GP services," he said.

The BBC's Laura Kuenssberg said that, in one way or another, all the three main parties had acknowledged that jobs would go in the public sector after the election but were very reluctant to give much detail.



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