AT least 300,000 Whitehall and other public sector workers may lose their jobs as the coalition government sets to work cutting the £156 billion budget deficit.
As George Osborne, the chancellor, prepares to unveil the first £6 billion of cuts tomorrow, the full scale of the job losses that will follow has begun to emerge.
The initial savings to be announced will target such items as civil servants’ perks, which include taxis, flights and hotel accommodation.
The package will also include a £513m cut in the budgets for quangos, with some being abolished altogether.
“The outgoing chief secretary [Liam Byrne] said it all, there is no money,” said a Treasury source. “There is no time either.”
While the first wave of cuts will mainly target Whitehall waste, more severe reductions of up to 25% in some departmental budgets will follow in a comprehensive spending review in the autumn.
Detailed research by The Sunday Times shows that at least 300,000 workers, including civil servants and frontline staff, will lose their jobs over the next few years.
Some estimates suggest that the number of job losses could reach 700,000. These will include tens of thousands of health service managers as well as many thousands of doctors and nurses, according to internal documents from the National Health Service.
Three out of the 10 strategic health authorities have disclosed that they will reduce their headcounts by a total of 30,132, an average of 8.7%. If these cuts were replicated nationwide, the total job losses would amount to 120,000.
A similar analysis of 75 local authorities suggests that at least 100,000 council workers across the country will lose their jobs.
Thousands of police officers and their civilian support staff will lose their posts, with the Metropolitan police alone forecasting 445 job cuts.
About 20,000 jobs will be lost at the Ministry of Defence as the department faces a demand to reduce its administrative costs by 25%. Ministry insiders say the cuts are set to hit military personnel, including some frontline soldiers.
Ministers have tried to insist that any public sector job losses would be mainly among the “penpushing” bureaucrats, but answers received under freedom of information requests suggest that a wide variety of different professions will be hit.
Meanwhile, David Cameron, who has given up motorcycle outriders and reduced the number of ministerial drivers since becoming prime minister, has let it be known that he will personally foot the bill for the refurbishment of his Downing Street accommodation.
Cameron’s family will move into the two-bedroom apartment above No 10 this week, while a new kitchen is installed in the larger flat over No 11.
“Any costs above the standard existing allowance will be met by David and [his wife Samantha],” said a Downing Street source.
The first wave of cuts is likely to include severe restrictions on Whitehall travel and accommodation.
A Treasury audit of Whitehall spending, which was carried out over the past week, has revealed how officials spend £125m a year on taxis, £320m on hotels and £70m on flights.
The audit also reveals that the government spends £580m a year on office furniture, £1 billion on advertising and £700m on other marketing and media.
Ministers are promising a “bonfire of quangos”, which over the past 13 years have become bywords for Whitehall waste and political cronyism.
The organisations set to be axed include the Qualifications and Curriculum Development Agency, which employs 723 people, the South East England Development Agency, which has 270 staff, and the 40strong Infrastructure Planning Commission.
The Skills Funding Agency, which employs 1,200 people, is also likely to be closed, along with the Higher Education Funding Council for England. They will be replaced by a new Council for Adult Skills and Higher Education.
Vince Cable’s Department for Business, Innovation and Skills will bear the brunt of the initial cuts, making savings of £900m.
The axe is expected to fall on grants announced in the final days of the Labour government, including an £8m payment towards the refurbishment of Blackpool Tower.
The Foreign Office is expected to announce the closure of some overseas offices shortly. An audit has revealed widespread waste where different British government agencies operate out of separate sites in the same city.
For example, £20m could be saved by merging four offices in Abuja, the Nigerian capital, occupied by the high commission, the Border Agency, the Department for International Development and the British Council.
Even ministries whose overall budgets will be ringfenced are having to find cost savings, which will be reinvested in frontline services.
The Department of Health, for example, is expected to end its £275,000 funding of dance classes and competitions.
With the Ministry of Defence facing spiralling costs for big procurement projects, Liam Fox, the defence secretary, is considering bringing in Bernard Grey, an independent consultant, as a minister in the Lords.
Most of the large cuts will follow a strategic defence review that will get under way later this year.
£3bn nuclear fallout
Labour left a multi-billion-pound black hole in its nuclear power budget, which could force ministers to implement bigger cuts elsewhere in Whitehall, coalition sources claimed this weekend.
They alleged that future costs of safe waste disposal had not been properly accounted for in spending budgets, amounting to a £850m shortfall next year, £950m in 2012-13 and £1.1 billion by 2013-14.
The issue was judged so serious it was discussed at the cabinet’s first meeting. “We will have to look at it very carefully because we can’t do cuts to nuclear decommissioning and safety,” said one insider.
Click to view image: '00a991f13786-london_good_british_pound.jpg'
Tags: public, finance, economy, america, bp, gulf, oil, price, china, mexico, clegg, uk, cameron, liberal, conservative, british, jobs, axe, cuts, budget, obama, us, Afghanistan, iraq, taliban, banks, 300, 000, jobs, employment,
Views: 8598 | Comments: 25 | Votes: 1 | Favorites: 0 | Shared: 1 | Updates: 0 | Times used in channels: 1
|Liveleak on Facebook|