270,000 public sector jobs must go

17 June 2010

• 30% of jobs in central government and its QUANGOs should be cut according to the Adam Smith Institute
• These cuts could save up to £60billion a year
• No job cuts are proposed for frontline public servants

A forthcoming report from free market think-tank the Adam Smith Institute will urge the government to reduce the number of people employed by central government departments and their QUANGOs by almost 30 percent over the next five years – which would mean reducing the number of public sector jobs by more than 270,000.

The plans, outlined in detail in the Institute’s forthcoming report ‘Towards Taxpayer Value’, could save almost £60bn a year, and help the Chancellor make significant headway towards his goal of eliminating the budget deficit by the end of the current parliament.

The report will not propose staffing cuts for front line public servants, such as teachers, nurses, doctors, police officers, or active armed forces personnel, but will argue for very radical reforms to the Ministry of Defence and the Department of Work & Pensions.

According to plans drawn up by Tim Ambler, Honorary Senior Research Fellow at the London Business School, the Ministry of Defence would be radically streamlined by returning procurement to the armed forces – a move that would make tens of thousands of civil servants redundant. In total, 100,000 jobs at the Ministry of Defence would be abolished over a five-year period.

The Department of Work & Pensions would be subject to more than 50,000 job cuts, as part of a complete overhaul of the welfare system, which would see job centres privatised and the benefits payment system radically simplified and integrated with the tax system.

The report’s lead author, Tim Ambler, commented:

“The goal of this research is not to cut jobs or spending. The point is to make Taxpayer Value absolutely central to public service provision. As things stand, the UK’s front line public services are held back by bureaucracy and fail to deliver bang for the buck. We need real change in the public sector, not least because Britain has the biggest budget deficit in the developed world.”

Dr Eamonn Butler, the director of the Adam Smith Institute, added:

“These numbers sound radical, but it is worth remembering that more than a million new public sector jobs have been created since 1997. And as for political feasibility, the Conservatives actually proposed to abolish 235,000 bureaucratic jobs in their 2005 election manifesto. Now that the public finances are in such dire straits, this must be firmly back on the agenda.”

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