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‘Challenging’ reductions in public sector jobs – IFS

The number of civil service jobscould fall by up to 40% over the next five years, according to a new report by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS).

The report warned that the cuts could hit the most deprived areas of the country hardest. The IFS said the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) was expecting 1.1 million public sector jobs to be lost in the eight years from 2010/11. So far only a quarter of these have gone.

The IFS said if education and NHS workforces were not reduced between mid-2013 and 2018-19, the OBR forecasts could only be achieved by shrinking the rest of the general government workforce by 40%.

Jonathan Cribb, research economist at IFS and an author of the report, said: “The public sector workforce grew by over 600,000 over the 2000s. Even so, the scale of the reductions expected over the next few years looks challenging. If delivered, the 1.1m drop in general government employment forecast by the OBR between 2010–11 and 2018–19 would be almost three times larger than the previous drop during the early 1990s.

“The workforce is a useful prism through which to look at the effects of cutting total spending whilst protecting the NHS and schools budgets from cuts. With limited falls in the health and education workforces the number of public sector workers in other areas could fall by 30-40% over the next five years.

“The percentage of the workforce in the public sector varies across regions, from almost 28% in Wales to under 21% in London. Private sector employment has risen in each region by more than public employment has fallen between the first quarter of 2010 and the second quarter of 2013. However, regions with the largest falls in public employment are not seeing the strongest growth in private sector employment.”

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