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Welsh public sector jobs at risk

The Wales Audit Office (WAO) has issued a report on public services revealing that the Welsh public sector is facing unprecedented levels of financial pressure, which could result in the loss of up to 21,000 public sector jobs in the next four years.

The report, A Picture of Public Services in Wales, claims that the Welsh Government itself faces a real-terms capital and revenue cut of £1.9 billion by 2014-15. It says that the Welsh NHS will be particularly hard hit and projects a cash shortfall of up to £570m for the company by 2013-14.

Auditor general Huw Vaughan Thomas said that the cuts were “unprecedented in modern times. We have to go back to looking at how we provide services and whether we provide services, particularly in the NHS.”

The report warns that the severe cuts may need to result in measures beyond efficiency savings, particularly in the short term: “While transformation is the sustainable solution, it takes time to deliver cost savings. Public services also need to take action to address immediate funding gaps.”

The report predicts cumulative losses of 3,105 jobs this financial year, rising to a total of 20,985 by 2014-15, indicating that only a small proportion of potential job losses as a result of spending reductions have occurred so far, with the largest increases yet to come.

The chair of Wales’ Public Accounts Committee, Darren Millar, said: “The auditor general’s report clearly demonstrates that tough times lie ahead for public services in Wales and painful decisions regarding the way they deliver services must be made.”

The WAO report comes almost a year after a spending review by Chancellor George Osborne imposed budget cuts across the public sector as part of the UK Government’s plans to reduce the country’s deficit.

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