More cuts – and more difficult decisions – lie ahead as the Government’s efforts to drive down the deficit within a few years put further pressure on services.
Today, the Yorkshire Post reveals that a staggering £130m has been paid out to make 6,500 public sector workers redundant in the region since April 2009.
Tens of millions more have been earmarked for thousands of further job losses as a full picture of the impact of the cuts for the first time begins to emerge – although it remains likely that many more people on temporary contracts have also lost their positions and thousands of other leavers have simply not been replaced, making the scale of reductions far greater.
The pay-outs average around £23,000 a head – equivalent to little more than a year’s net income of an average person. But attention will certainly focus on those picking up six-figure sums and, of greatest concern, on those apparently taking home a large redundancy cheque and yet being re-employed elsewhere in the public sector or even in the same organisation.
Ministers should make it clear that those taking redundancy cannot be re-employed; otherwise, the taxpayer is simply being taken for a ride. Anyone who does get appointed to another post should pay their redundancy back.
The scale of the cuts is unprecedented but there must also be concerns too that valuable expertise is being lost. Already, warnings are being made in the NHS that senior managers with decades of experience are departing at a time when their knowledge is most needed.
There can be little doubt that the sheer size of the cutbacks is also having a serious knock-on impact on the economy. It is a huge gamble by Chancellor George Osborne to order billions in savings at the same time as the economy is so weak. Growth figures for the three months to June will next week show if the economy is continuing to stagnate. No-one doubts that the deficit must be dealt with. But the cuts may be storing up trouble to deal further damage to living standards, which have been battered enough already.