It has been predicted that 1.2 million public sector jobs will be cut by 2017/18, and trade unions have warned that this will lead to a dramatic deterioration in councils services.
The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS), have forecast in their Green Budget 2013 that an additional 300,000 jobs would need to be shed in the three years following the next fixed-term parliament in 2015, if government departments maintain the same trajectory of planned cutbacks.
The budget shows that government’s plans will mean that departmental spending is forecast to be cut in real terms by 10.6% between 2010/11 and 2014/15. This would reduce departmental spending as a share of national income to 21.7% in 2014/15, the level it was back in 2002/03.
The report said:
If the government continued its protection of the NHS, schools and aid, other areas of departmental spending would be facing cuts of 12.7% over these two years, or a reduction in their real budgets of a third since 2010/11.
The start of the next Parliament therefore brings no end to the difficult decisions regarding the appropriate balance of taxation and spending and, within spending, between social security spending and public services and between different public services.
This means the public sector is on course for far greater job losses than the 900,000 estimated over the spending review period by independent government forecasters the Office for Budget Responsibility.
Launching the IFS’ Green Budget, IFS director Paul Johnson said:
If they are delivered, not only will they result in extraordinarily levels of cuts across public services, they’ll also change very dramatically the shape of the state that is delivering them.
In response, Dave Prentis, Unison general secretary said the IFS forecast ‘is deeply worrying news for our economy and our society’:
If one in six public sector workers lose their jobs, the public will get a dramatically worse level of service from their local council, hospital and even their local school.
Cheshire East Council have announced that around a fifth of their public sector jobs will be cut, as 1,000 out of a total 5,500 jobs will be necessary for their council. Craig Nicholson, Unison’s Cheshire East branch secretary, said:
We are concerned not just about the staffing implications but the effect on services. [We have] grave concerns about the direction the council is heading in terms of the mass outsourcing of services, which we believe could lead to less responsive and more fragmented services.
There is a wealth of evidence that the private sector over-promises and under-delivers in terms of providing quality public services.
We believe that this will lead to reduced services to the people of Cheshire East. We are seeking urgent discussions with the council to try to minimise the numbers of jobs to be lost.