Government HR faces more job-cuts warns think-tank

Whitehall HR job losses are just the start of a renewed flurry of cutbacks due across the Civil Service and government quangos, a public-sector think-tank has warned.

Hundreds of HR jobs across all Whitehall departments are at risk of being cut in a renewed efficiency drive by the government, it was revealed last week, in a bid to save at least £5bn by 2010-11.

Other back-office functions, such as IT and finance, would also be affected, according to proposals in a leaked letter from Treasury chief secretary Yvette Cooper to ministers, reported by the Times.

An independent panel set up last year identified a massive variation in the cost of hiring HR staff across departments. Cooper called for up to 25% in efficiency savings in Whitehall corporate services and back-office functions, with up to 800 quangos facing similar cuts.

Tony Dolphin, senior economist at the Institute for Public Policy Research, told Personnel Today “the worst was still to come” for public-sector HR. “The public sector will suffer more in the recovery than in the recession. At the moment the public sector is acting as the counterweight to the private sector. As the economy recovers and the private sector grows again, the public sector will be under pressure to control spending.”

Details of which departments will bear the brunt of the cutbacks are expected in the Budget Report, due on 22 April. “Where savings are achieved through headcount reductions, they will be a matter for the department concerned,” a Treasury spokeswoman said.

She added that 70,000 Whitehall jobs had already been cut, under the 2004 Gershon Review, producing savings of more than £22bn in overhead and salary costs.

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