Hundreds of thousands of civil servants and other government employees are facing the sack under sweeping Tory plans to cut back the state, The Telegraph can disclose.
Ministers are drawing up radical measures, to be announced in George Osborne’s Autumn Statement, which will see widespread privatisations and at least one million public sector workers removed from the government payroll by the end of the decade. The Treasury has now ordered the Cabinet Office to prepare an “ambitious” new programme of efficiency savings stretching deep into the next parliament after the 2015 election. It comes as new laws are announced to force future governments to reduce red tape for businesses, and a fresh assault is launched on “fat cat” public officials’ pay.
In an article for The Telegraph, Matthew Hancock, the business minister and one of Mr Osborne’s closest allies, declares that government must “get out of the way” to allow companies to thrive. A new Small Business Bill will set down in law new targets for reducing the amount of regulations that shopkeepers and other small businesses have to comply with.
"We are on track to be the first government in modern times to reduce the burden of regulation on business. Our 'one in, two out' rule ensures that the burden of regulation keeps falling. Now we will put the deregulation target into the law entrenching the need for government to reduce their burden on business," Mr Hancock said.
In a separate move, Eric Pickles, the Local Government secretary, will also step up his assault on “exorbitant” salaries for public officials this week, ordering councils to share senior executives across local authorities and stamp out high pay deals. The Conservative effort to roll back the state comes after worse than expected economic figures showed that government borrowing rose last month. A succession of positive reports from economists reinforced the message that Britain is returning to strong growth.
However, Mr Osborne has also warned voters that the economy is not yet safe and the Tories are expected to argue in next year’s election campaign that they should be allowed to finish the job rather than letting Labour put the recovery at risk.
The budget deficit is forecast to continue until at least 2018, requiring public spending restraint well beyond the general election. Ministers have been told that the government workforce will fall by about one million between 2011 and 2019. At a rate of 36,000 per quarter, this is the equivalent of sacking one state employee every four minutes, every day, for the next five years.
At a meeting in Whitehall earlier this month, Mr Osborne told officials: “We’ve made excellent progress and have now shown that we can deliver savings and reforms year after year. But there’s still more to do. There’s a job to finish.” He said he wanted “an ambitious new efficiency programme” to deliver savings “across the next Parliament” and to be announced in time for the Autumn Statement later this year. “We know we need to spend taxpayers’ money responsibly,” he said.
A senior government source said the public would be urged to back further spending cuts at the next election with a simple message that Britain’s soaring debts require everyone to tighten their belts further. “What we've done so far has been presented as radical but it's actually been pretty incremental - we haven't been reinventing the wheel,” the source said.
“We want to go further. It's like a firm cutting overheads - no leading organisation ever stops looking for efficiencies and the civil service shouldn't be any different.” The reforms are expected to see more government offices privatised and turned into “public service mutuals”, which are owned by their staff, but funded by private sector payments rather than the taxpayer.
The “digitisation” of services will also put more government functions online, reducing the number of civil servants on the state payroll.Now given that as far as I understand the privatisation of public services is hugely unpopular with the public, the Tories making it clear that sacking a million public servants will be a key plank of their election manifesto means the other parties must respond and say what their positions are on this issue. It looks to me as if plenty of blue water is opening up in order to give the electorate a real choice come May next year.
And talking of 'outsourcing' public services, I see the Public and Commercial Service's Union are striking over the plans to privatise the MoJ 'shared services' that probation colleagues in NPS are currently trying to get to grips with:-
PCS members in two MoJ 'shared services' centres who work in payroll, personnel and finance covering the courts, prison services and Home Office face being handed over to a new company called Shared Services Connected Ltd (SSCL), set up last autumn to take on similar work for the Department for Work and Pensions and Defra.
SSCL is 75% owned by French multinational Steria, with the government retaining 25%. Months after winning the contract the company announced plans to halve the number of UK staff doing the work and close three offices by October 2014, at the same time as taking on 200 more jobs in India.
When the Cabinet Office first published its shared services strategy, it stated the MoJ would continue to operate a standalone centre. Staff learned out of the blue late last year this had been abandoned, with no explanation.
The union believes the Cabinet Office has pushed the privatisation of shared services, despite the fact it is likely to lead to job losses, with work and personal and financial data being handled overseas. This goes against previous ministerial commitments to keep government contracts in the UK and the prime minister's recent pledge to "reshore" jobs, the union says.
The union's 400 members in the MoJ shared services centres in Newport, south Wales, and Bootle, in Merseyside, will strike next Monday 30 June after voting 93% for action on a 47% turnout.
PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: "The government is using shared services as just another way to cut civil service jobs, by privatising and sending work overseas.
"Not only does this threaten the security of sensitive personal and financial information, it is a cynical exploitation of the inferior pay and employment conditions of workers in other countries."
Sign the petition to stop offshoring our jobs and data
Email your MP to ask them to support our campaign to save our shared services.
I also notice that there are increasing signs of discontent with the BBC and its utter failure to adequately report important events such as Saturday's austerity march. Good old 38 degrees have a petition running with over 8,000 signatures and it can be found here.
This from the Guardian:-
This from the Guardian:-
"Received an email from a manager today informing us that Momentis & Homegroup have withdrawn from the bidding for Derbyshire Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire & Rutland CRC, apparently they're no longer happy with the financial risk following the MOJs changing the contract criteria several times, they are however still possibly interested in the tier 2 bidding."