Northern Ireland public sector faces swingeing job cuts: Public Finance

Posted on June 6, 2008 · Posted in Public Finance

 

Northern Ireland public sector faces swingeing job cuts

 

by Paul Gosling

 

Over 33,000 jobs in Northern Ireland’s public sector face the axe, some 15% of the total, according to the Nipsa union. The warning follows an announcement that 450 jobs will go at the Northern Ireland Housing Executive, 15% of its total workforce, over the next three years.

 

Nipsa general secretary John Corey said it was a contradiction that ministers had called for the provision of an increased supply of affordable housing, yet were cutting jobs in the Housing Executive. “If new social housing is to be provided, homeless people to be found homes and the standard of the Housing Executive stock to be brought to the Decent Homes standard, cutting the workforce by 15% is totally unacceptable and will deepen the housing crisis,” he said.

 

Bumper Graham, Nipsa’s assistant general secretary told Public Finance that given the Comprehensive Spending Review settlement for Northern Ireland, he expected about 15% job cuts to be made across the public sector. “We have five new health trusts working up ‘recovery plans’,” he said. “In Belfast alone, the chief executive was talking about over 2,000 jobs going. That is the biggest trust, employing about 35% to 40% of those in health care trusts. If you extrapolate, that it is a figure of about 10,000.”

 

Total employment in Northern Ireland’s public sector stood at 221,272 last December, according to the Department of Finance and Personnel. Even if 15% of these were lost, about 33,200 jobs, the percentage of the province’s workforce in the public sector would remain much higher than in England – at over 25%, against 20% in England.

 

A spokesman for the Department of Finance and Personnel said that departments have been set targets of 3% per annum cash releasing savings from 2008 to 2011, which were aimed at releasing £790m for public service improvements. There is a further target of reducing administration costs by 5% a year. It is up to individual departments to decide how these targets will be met, said the spokesman. He added: “Departments are currently in the process of completing Efficiency Delivery Plans which will set out how they will achieve the 3% savings target so that the planned reinvestment of resources in frontline public services can take place.”