HR job cuts to be made across Whitehall departments in efficiency drive

Hundreds of HR civil service jobs across all Whitehall departments will be cut in a renewed efficiency drive by the government, it has been claimed.

Hundreds more jobs will go in other back-office functions such as IT and finance, in an effort to generate savings of at least £5bn by 2010-11, according to the Times.

The chief secretary to the Treasury, Yvette Cooper, has demanded that all Whitehall departments make job cuts to maintain front-line services such as health and education.

An independent panel set up last year identified that the cost of hiring HR staff varied by 300%, while the annual cost of IT, including hardware, software and back-up support, ranged from £800 to £3,000 for one desktop computer.

Cooper told the Times: “We’ve got a long-term efficiency programme to help us keep increasing investment in front-line public services. The Conservatives want to cut housing and training budgets next month in the middle of a recession. That’s barmy and would cost us all more in the long run.”

In a strongly worded letter to ministers, Cooper has called for as much as 25% efficiency savings in corporate services and back-office functions including HR in all departments and up to 800 public quangos.

Details of the efficiency drive are expected to be announced as part of next month’s Budget, expected on 22 April.

It is alleged that around 70,000 jobs have already been cut across Whitehall, under the Gershon Review, producing savings of more than £22bn.

The efficiency panel’s members include non-executive director of British Airways Martin Read, who is looking at back-office functions and IT, and Lord Carter of Coles, a Labour peer, who is looking at maximising the use of office space to save costs.

The Cabinet was unavailable for comment this morning.

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