Up to 40,000 public sector jobs could go within 12 months of a Conservative election victory under plans drawn up by the party’s efficiency chief.
In an interview with the Financial Times, Peter Gershon said £1bn to £2bn could be saved in 2010-11 by “driving down the use of agency and contract staff” and not filling vacant posts.
While it is not clear so far what the impact on social care will be, this could mean reductions of 20,000 to 40,000 posts, Colin Talbot of Manchester Business School told the FT.
A Community Care survey last year found that one in nine social work posts were vacant in England, meaning Gershon’s announcement will raise concerns that unfilled posts will be slashed.
However, the Conservatives said that the proposals referred to “back office” posts and claimed that “not filling vacancies” did not constitute “job losses”.
Meanwhile, David Cameron has signalled that a Tory government would curb salaries for senior public servants by ensuring that they earned no more than 20 times the pay of the lowest paid staff in their organisations, in an article for The Guardian.
This would imply local government chief executives and directors having their pay capped at about £200,000 a year.
Labour has already proposed making the salaries of public servants earning more than £150,000 subject to Treasury approval, sparking warnings that councils would struggle to recruit the best talent.
Gershon, who led a review of public sector efficiency for Labour that reported in 2004, has identified £12bn in savings for the Tories in 2010-11 over and above those already planned by Labour.
He told the FT that cuts in IT spending of £2bn to £4bn could be made by renegotiating contracts with suppliers.
The Conservatives are also expected to bring forward plans to remove out-of-work benefits for three years from people who have committed benefit fraud three times.