Thousands of public sector HR professionals could pay for Alistair Darling’s Pre-Budget Report spending splurge with their jobs, it has emerged.
Details buried deep in the report reveal that the chancellor is set to slash government spending on HR from 2010 to finance his rescue package for the economy.
Darling plans to increase the use of shared-service centres to help find £5bn of efficiency gains – on top of those from the controversial 2004 spending review.
That review has already led to the loss of 86,700 state-funded jobs – and now former Logica chief executive Martin Read’s government-backed Operational Efficiency Programme has found room to go further.
The Pre-Budget Report states that Read has “identified substantial additional savings from 2010-11 onwards through greater efficiencies in back office operations including HR and finance”.
Darling is under huge pressure to save money from 2010 to limit the need for tax hikes to repay the huge debt he is running up to fight the economic crisis. He told Parliament last week: “I can announce the government will now find an additional £5bn of efficiencies in 2010-11.
“The efficiencies will come through lowering the cost of back-office operations, better procurement, examining property holdings and asset sales.”
Martin Rayson, lead on HR transformation at the Public Sector People Managers’ Association, said there was scope for far greater use of shared-service centres.
“HR jobs will change and there will inevitably be a reduction in HR jobs in the public sector,” he told Personnel Today.
Trade unions slammed the announcement. Mark Serwotka, general secretary of PCS, which has members across the Civil Service, said: “Key public services, such as justice, welfare and tax, are already struggling to cope against a backdrop of massive job cuts and office closures.”
Jonathan Baume, general secretary of FDA, which represents senior civil servants, added: “It will be essential that the government protects critical posts if long-term damage to the capability of the public services is to be avoided.”