By a Newsnet reporter
In an interview with the Telegraph newspaper, Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander has said that he sees “no reason not to sack” more public sector workers in order to improve efficiency.
Mr Alexander said the sackings may prove necessary as part of the Treasury’s drive to find £5 billion worth of savings in the public sector, and added that he would ignore public protests.
Asked if improved efficiencies in the public sector meant job losses, Mr Alexander replied:
“Of course. Further spending reductions will also have an effect on the workforce. As long as the quality of services doesn’t change, there’s no reason not to sack some more of the people now providing them.
“What I want to make sure is that we find savings in a way that maintains the quality of services that citizens receive. As you move more services online, that means existing channels are not needed, or needed to a much lesser extent, and that means you don’t need to employ as many people in those areas.”
Mr Alexander rejected the idea that objections from government ministers or public protests against cuts would have any effect on his austerity plans, saying:
“I accept that people will want to make their views public, but it has no effect on the decisions I will make, or the view that I will take on the right balance. The idea that having a great public campaign will influence the outcome, that’s just wrong.”
The Chief Secretary’s comments are a riposte to statements made recently by Defence Secretary Philip Hammond, who warned against any reduction in the defence budget. The slashes to the MoD’s finances will come into effect in 2015-16. The news emerged in the fallout from Wednesday’s budget statement, which revealed £11.5 billion of further cuts due in 2015-16.
Tensions have emerged within the Coalition government as Conservative politicians have voiced their support for continuing to slash the welfare budget, citing small falls in unemployment, instead of the defence budget.
Mr Alexander admitted in the interview that there had been disappointing growth in the economy, but inisted that the blame lay with the crisis in the eurozone, weakness in the banking sector, and high commodity prices. He denied that the UK government’s economic policy was failing, and vowed to continue with budget cuts and austerity.
Although admitting to periods of “reflection”, he stressed that his mind had not been changed, saying: “That has just reinforced my view that the strategy we have embarked upon is the right one for the country.”