Departmental budgets may be about to perform a spectacular nosedive, but at least one senior HR professional - Deb Clarke, joint HR director at Tower Hamlets Council and Primary Care Trust (PCT) - managed to deliver a significant spending reduction last year, well before the credit crunch took hold.
By bringing in a series of cost efficiencies around transactional processes, Clarke has already slashed her 2009 departmental budget by 5%, and she hopes that more savings will follow.
"By launching a dedicated talent website, for example, and by reducing our dependence on consultants and recruitment agencies, we have already achieved significant savings without sacrificing any aspect of service delivery," she says. "We have every hope that the push for greater efficiency will now continue."
When it comes to Tower Hamlets' hefty £1bn annual spend overall, together with another £500m for the PCT, every little helps. Elsewhere in the HR community though, it's the drive to save jobs - partly by sacrificing less important spending priorities - that is currently furrowing brows.
"I'm afraid HR budgets will most certainly be cut this year," says Donna Miller, European HR director at Enterprise Rent-A-Car.
"While employers are doing their absolute best to make redundancies a last resort, I have already heard of many companies implementing an hour's decrease in staff contracts - either across the board or in a range of particular targeted roles - and I imagine it will get worse before it gets better."
Rather more bullish is retailer John Lewis, which despite sharing the collective woes of the entire retail sector in 2008, will not be taking any pre-emptive action on budgets this year.
"Our HR budget for 2009 and beyond is focused on three strategic partner imperatives: development, high performance and fulfilment, and we are not looking to make any short-term reactive cuts in light of recent economic events," says Vicky Denning, head of personnel and organisational development.