Conservative Party Conference: Tories to slash Whitehall jobs and freeze public sector pay

The Conservatives would use job cuts to slash the cost of Whitehall by one-third over the next parliament, shadow chancellor George Osborne has announced.

Speaking at the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester, Osborne told delegates he would cut the number of central planners and regulators and regional government positions.

He said: “A Conservative Britain won’t need such a huge army of regulators, inspector and central planners second-guessing the professional judgement of every teacher, nurse and police officer.

“And we won’t need a huge tier of regional government second-guessing the decision of elected local councillors either. I tell you today that the next Conservative government will cut the cost of Whitehall by one-third over the next parliament.”

This, Osborne said, would amount to a £3bn per year saving in bureaucracy.

Public sector pay

Osborne added there would have to be a “difficult trade-off between securing jobs and retraining”. He said if the Tories win the next general election they will ask every part of the public sector to accept a pay freeze – except those earning less than £18,000 and those fighting in Afghanistan.

But he added a pay freeze on this scale would protect 100,000 public sector jobs.

He added ministers would see their pay cut by 5%, the number of MPs would be slashed by 10% and the parliament’s “unaffordable” pension scheme would be closed to all new members.

“And what we ask of Westminster, we will also ask of Whitehall and its quangos,” Osbourne said.

He added the Conservatives would look to implement a £50,000 annual cap on public sector pension payouts.

State pension age

The state pension age for men would be raised by one year, to 66, under a Conservative government, Osborne revealed.

The government has already announced it will raise the state pension age for men to 66 – but they said this would not happen until 2024.

But Osborne said: “Our aim will be to bring forward the date when the pension age rises. This is how we can afford increasing the basic state pension for all.”

The pension age for women, he said, would not rise from 65 to 66 until at least 2020.

Announcing the policy, Osborne warned the government in power next year would “need to make difficult decisions”.

Analysis of Cameron’s speech

Personnel Today will be covering David Cameron’s speech to the conference live on Thursday at 2pm, with the help of three leading employment panelists from the EEF, Work Foundation and Institute of Employment Studies. Make sure you log onto on Thursday to see the latest employment news being reported as it happens, with expert commentary on what this means for HR professionals.


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