Friday, April 09, 2010

Tories deny claim 40,000 jobs could go in savings drive.

This is where David Cameron's refusal to say what he's going to do once elected could backfire on him.

The Conservatives have denied claims up to 40,000 public sector jobs could be lost as part of planned spending cuts.

Sir Peter Gershon, efficiency adviser to the Tories, has said up to £2bn could be saved on recruitment.

Experts told the Financial Times this implied 40,000 potential job losses in a year. The Tories said the saving was based on a hiring freeze not job cuts.

Labour and the Lib Dems said the Tories' plans were not "credible" as the election tax battle intensified.

Cameron loves to tell us all of the savings he is going to make without ever being specific about where he is going to make cuts. So, it's unsurprising that others will try to work out just where exactly cuts of the scale he is talking about could be made, and at what cost to the nation's workforce.

The Tories are hitting back by saying that their savings come from "not filling vacant posts" rather than from making people redundant, but it's a distinction which is rather lost on me.

If you don't fill a vacant post, indeed, if the government stops filling all of it's vacant posts, then somewhere along the line that is going to start to have an impact on the overall number of people who are unemployed.

So the Tories are promising to return us to the days of rising unemployment.

Labour said the Conservative pledge to find a further £12bn of savings, on top of the £15bn already earmarked by the government, was a "fiction that is being exposed".

"The only analysis they have got is a four-page press release," said Chief Secretary to the Treasury Liam Byrne.

"George Osborne has decided to rest his entire economic plan on the back of that. We are saying that is just not plausible."

For the Lib Dems, Chris Huhne said the Tories were "promising the earth with no concept of how they were going to pay for it" and that history suggested they would have to raise VAT to do so.

A letter popped through my door the other day from George Osborne. He could have said anything in that letter. He could have told us how he was going to make these massive savings I keep reading about.

He didn't. He told me that he was going to after people claiming benefits. In a country where bankers are taking millions a year in unearned bonuses, he wanted me to get incensed by people who claim £47.95 per week if aged between 16-24, and £60.50 per week if aged over 25.

Those are hardly the Great Train Robbers. But that, so far, is the Tory plan. Stop "filling vacant posts", whilst simultaneously attacking the people who collect benefits. We saw all of this under Thatcher. She brought about the largest rise in unemployment in living memory whilst, all the while, attacking the unemployed as "social security scroungers".

The present lot are saying that they will increase unemployment - or as they put it, "stop filling vacant posts" - whilst Osborne promises to go after benefit cheats.

It's all so drearily familiar.

Click here for full article.

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