Public sector spending cuts put jobs at risk in ‘public sector cities’

Cities such as Newcastle, Ipswich and Swansea could each lose thousands of jobs when public sector spending cuts come into force from 2011.

The research institute, Centre for Cities, has warned 290,000 public sector jobs could go by 2014, and cities that are currently heavily dependent on public sector employment must start preparing.

The Public Sector Cities report found 69% of the 1.2 million jobs created in cities between 1998 and 2007 were in the public sector. The report revealed Newcastle – where 32% of jobs are in the public sector – could expect to lose up to 6,600 government jobs from 2011, but this would lead to a further loss of 2,000 private sector jobs.

Swansea could lose 2,300 public sector jobs and another 700 private sector jobs, while both Barnsley and Ipswich could each lose 1,600 jobs in total.

Dermot Finch, director of the Centre for Cities, said: “UK cities rely heavily on public sector jobs. But the current size of their public sector workforce is untenable, given that we need to cut public spending from 2011 onwards.

“Over the next decade, cities cannot depend on the public sector to provide the bulk of future jobs growth. Instead, private sector jobs will need to be a bigger share of future employment growth.”

The institute called on the government to consider alternatives to job cuts, such as pay freezes and flexible working, and for redundancies to be phased in slowly to limit their impact.

John Philpott, chief economist at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, said the government had to make clear the scale of the job cuts so employers could prepare themselves.

“Politicians of all parties should openly acknowledge that major public sector downsizing is inevitable and prepare managers, workers and local communities to meet the pressures this will create,” he said.

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