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The sack: Lessons for government

Robert Peston | 11:39 UK time, Wednesday, 20 October 2010

If public sector workers facing and fearing redundancy after today's cuts itemisation are expecting sympathy and solidarity from the media, well I fear they may be disappointed.

Police

 

Because although the outlook is grim - with more than 40,000 defence job losses announced yesterday and perhaps half a million state positions at risk in toto - many journalists would argue that their own personal experience has been grimmer.

Whatever happens in the civil service, the police, the courts and so on, it probably won't be any worse than the recent axe-wielding at many newspapers and commercial television operations, which are only just recovering from the worst collapse in revenues in their history.

Even at the allegedly protected and sheltered BBC, there hasn't been a year since I joined in February 2006 which hasn't seen cuts and job losses (which will almost certainly be magnified in coming months as a result of the new shrunken budgets being imposed on the corporation).

So human nature being what it is, I fear journos will be pretty anaesthetised to the pain awaiting their state confreres.

What is striking about the private sector in general (as I and Stephanie have pointed out myriad times) is that the number of employees which companies threw on to the mercy of the market, during the worst recession since the 1930s, were far fewer than most economists had forecast.

Unemployment seems to have stabilised for now below 2.5m, less than 8% of the work force. That unemployment rate is far less than what most economists had expected from a peak-to-trough contraction of GDP of 6%, that has also left output today a tenth lower than it would have been in the absence of the slump.

What appears to have happened is that private sector workers have protected their jobs by showing great flexibility in the terms and conditions of their employment - taking pay cuts, agreeing to temporarily reduce hours worked, and so on.

A very big question for the public sector is whether both employers and employees can show similar imagination and flexibility, whose rewards were manifested only last week in Tata Motors' decision to save from extinction an important Jaguar Land Rover car plant in the Midlands.

It is also clear, from the record of the giant bank Royal Bank of Scotland, that compulsory redundancies can be kept fairly low, if the will is there. Over the past couple of years, RBS has announced 20,700 job losses in the UK and 26,700 worldwide - of which one in four have been compulsory.

All that said, there is a fundamental difference between the experience of the public and private sectors in the 10 years before the financial crash of 2007 which precipitated the Great Recession.

In that period, much of British industry was forced to become more competitive by the strength of the pound. So when the downturn came, there wasn't a huge amount of fat to remove. Also the workforce was probably inured to the imperative of maintaining competitiveness, and may have been psychologically prepared for cuts and changes in working practices.

By contrast, the public sector enjoyed eight or nine years of budgets expanding significantly faster than the rate of inflation. Which means that public sector staff may not be so prepared in an emotional sense for the shocks that lie ahead.

Arguably, therefore, the agony will be all the greater for state employees when they learn that they face at least five years of working harder with little prospect of greater financial reward.

Update, 1416: How realistic is it that private sector recruitment can make up for jobs lost in the public sector as a result of the cuts?

Well the chancellor confirmed today that he expects public sector job losses to be 490,000 or around 8% of all public-sector employment.

That is a substantial reduction in public sector employment. But it will take place over four years.

Now the private sector employs just over 23m people, almost four times as many people as the public sector.

So private sector employment needs to rise by "just" 2%, to absorb all the jobs lost in the public sector.

Which doesn't look absurd, so long as the economic recovery is sustained.

But there are three important caveats.

First not everyone made redundant by the public sector may be wanted by the private sector.

Second, those made redundant by the public sector will be in competition with those the government wishes to "encourage" off benefits and into work.

Third, in the past year employment of non-UK people has risen by 114,000, whereas employment of UK nationals has fallen by 15,000.

If growth in private-sector employment is to be celebrated by British people, those jobs need to go - presumably - to British people, which can't be guaranteed.

Comments

Page 1 of 5

  • Comment number 1.

    They way to go is to have the peasants turning on one anoher. Brilliantly pathetic.

  • Comment number 2.

    Hmmm...more flexibility on pay in the public sector eh? Good plan! My wife is a public sector worker earning just over the minimum wage. If she drops 30p per hour to the minimum wage she may keep her job....excellent idea....I will tell her to go and volunteer this afternoon!

    Anyhting to keep the journalists happy!

  • Comment number 3.

    Looks as though the Potemkin village idiot economy is over flowing .

  • Comment number 4.

    it's time for the public sector to be reeled in....its not going to be pretty but the re-balancing of Labour's wrongs need addressing.

  • Comment number 5.

    Robert,

    Are you really saying you will show no solidarity or sympathy because you are in the same/worse position?

    If this is not the time for solidarity when is?

    My opinion of you has just plummeted.

  • Comment number 6.

    As it was the Banks who allegedly caused the financial problems why doesn't the government disallow the offset of all losses incurred as a consequence against their future profits, this would at least show to us mere mortals that the bank are contributing something by way of Tax Revenues that they would not otherwise pay?

  • Comment number 7.

    I think it is a no brainer than the state has become too much of a burden on society. Too many people with too much time, thinking of ways that they can impose more burden on the rest of us, with stupid rules and regulations.

    Let us just hope that the fat cats at the top loose their jobs, rather than the people who actually do the work.

    Steel and coal were culled in the 1980's, a little too drastic in my own view. However 10% cuts in the Public sector, seems very little in comparison.

  • Comment number 8.

    #1 copperDolomite
    "They way to go is to have the peasants turning on one anoher. Brilliantly pathetic."

    Have you noticed that it only works peasants against peasants?

    The gilded ones truly enjoy a gilded life.

  • Comment number 9.

    Soon there will be no public sector jobs, with all 'local' services contracted out the councils will be run by a handful of people whose only function will be procurement. As usual those who are able to change, and take advantage of the situation, will survive nicely - those who do not, or cannot, will fall by the wayside for a time, until the private sector hoovers them up during the next period of growth (or boom, depending on your view).

  • Comment number 10.

    Don't forget... "We're all in this together"

  • Comment number 11.

    Once again we see the divorce of the two sectors of the economy as if events in the public sector have no effect on the private side. Whether there are painless or not ways of removing half a million jobs this will not help the recovery of the economy and the underlying sentiments across the media is the race to the bottom is OK!

  • Comment number 12.

    Why would we expect anything from the bulk of journalists, newspapers and TV channels? With a few honorable exceptions, the job of the media has been to sell this return to the 1930s to Joe Public, and they have been working very hard along these lines. Credit to Channel 4 news and the Guardian for some critical comment.

  • Comment number 13.

    What you mean, Robert, is that context is everything.

    Having once been out out on the cobbles, you become hardened to the reality. Since then I have periodically evaluated the viability of my own job and my own economic position.

    My advice to anyone is that bad things can happen and it need not be your fault. Adjusting to the new reality is the way to surviving.

    Remember it was New Labour who declared that `things could only get better'. Life isn't like that but what did New Labour know?

  • Comment number 14.

    Again, a complete failure to question underlying issues around, for example, inequality. RP and most economists talk about the economy as if it is a natural entity....workers in the private sector should adjust to its 'demands' rather than consider taking industrial action. Meanwhile others (particularly those at the top of these organisations) benefit from the rise in share price driven by investor confidence in 'restructuring operations'. On a wider level, globalization is taken just as a 'thing' which cannot be reshaped by conscious effort. There is no critical questioning of these processes, just a parroting of the consensus, which reinforces the dominance of certain sets of ideas and leads people to believe that there are no alternatives.

  • Comment number 15.

    Although I do not like to hear of anyone losing their jobs, I cannot feel sympathy for public service workers in anyway, working in the 'private sector'.
    My coucil tax has increased on average 10% over the last few years, at a time when I have only received one wage increase in the last 5 years, and had to endure a 10% pay cut last year to safeguard against job cuts.
    People probably won't feel any sympathy for me either, the one thing I can say though, is I enjoy my job and I'm proud of working for an engineering company, who when exporting plant abroad, brings money into our economy.

  • Comment number 16.

    Both my wife and I work in the public sector and if we get made redundant the last thing either of us expect will be sympathy, especially from the govt. and the right wing press, as lets face it according to them we're both overpaid, lazy and a blight on society. Of course if it all goes pear shaped and the economy falters as the private sector fails to find jobs for us and thousands like us it will be interesting to see who Cameron and co. pick on as the next whipping boys. You can bet the farm it won't be the bankers and their bonuses, millionaire tax dodgers who say they'll pay UK tax and then surprisingly don't and then complain about media interest in them and the big businessmen themselves who seem loath to divulge how much tax their companies actually pay. It would seem they are running out of options as to who to blame though no doubt they'll find another group if things do go wrong. Lets face it if Brits were as militant as the French then the cuts might not be so deep, so it makes you wonder if the "stiff upper lip" and "grin and bear it" mentality we seem to have ingrained in us actually works against the ordinary punter as there seems to be very little organised opposition to the cuts. But then again if Osborne goes too far things might just change.

  • Comment number 17.

    I know a fire officer who was recently told cuts to his brigade of more than £1m will result in front line job losses. The Chief Fire Officer who told him has seen his pay rise from £80,000 p/a to £160,000 p/a in the last five years.

    This is typical of what I see of the waste, excess and attitude of the public services under Labour.

  • Comment number 18.

    It seeems to me that there has been very little in the way of addressing the cause of bloat in some public sectors. Where are the reviews? certainly not in defence, as you pointed out yesterday Robert. Certainly not in the NHS where a huge tier of middle management is still dedicated to producing figures for the goverment which could easily be reduced.

    I say again, where are the reviews? Where is the strategy?

  • Comment number 19.

    Good afternoon Robert,
    Another excellent blog. The lessons of Mersey fire service teach us that more can be done with less in Public services see http://www.economist.com/node/17209655?story_id=17209655 . I recently landed at Heathrow when the UK Border Service went on strike. We came through passport control in record time. Both these instances show me that the ineffective, or bone idle, public services need to be modernised and streamlined. Everywhere I look I see efficient Private Sector against an ineffective an inefficient Public Sector. I hope the TUC deliver a general strike in the next few months, I'm sure we won't notice any impact.
    Thanks,
    Neil

  • Comment number 20.

    The usual ruling class ploy - divide & rule.

    All workers, public & private, are being attacked to maintain/recover profit rates.

    Try explaining the cause of crises rather than who suffers more than who.

  • Comment number 21.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 22.

    "Labour's Darlington MP Jenny Chapman asks whether the PM could name just four North East businesses which are planning to expand their workforce in the coming months. David Cameron replies that business across the country is backing the government's cuts agenda."

    So not so good for the north east then?

    "Labour's David Anderson asks David Cameron whether he believes unemployment is a "price worth paying" for cutting government spending. Mr Cameron replies that there is no ideological drive behind wielding the axe but that it is simply the best policy for economic health."

    ...so it's not ideologially driven - but it's a price worth paying then Dave?
    Isn't it time this 'burden of the state' was removed from his 'non-job' of 'not a real prime minister'?

  • Comment number 23.

    "1302: The BBC's Iain Watson says: The chancellor not only blames banks for some of Britain's problems but Labour for not regulating them effectively and says his banking levy will raise more than Labour's bonus tax."

    Classic - so the party of deregulation blames the party of over-regulation of not regulating enough!
    Some people will say anything to excuse their behaviour!

  • Comment number 24.

    15. At 12:55pm on 20 Oct 2010, des1962 wrote:

    "Although I do not like to hear of anyone losing their jobs, I cannot feel sympathy for public service workers in anyway, working in the 'private sector'.
    My coucil tax has increased on average 10% over the last few years, at a time when I have only received one wage increase in the last 5 years, and had to endure a 10% pay cut last year to safeguard against job cuts."

    So the answer to your poor wages and the exploitation by your company is to bring everyone else down to your level?

    It's common for people who work in the private sector to moan about their own working conditions but then suggest that the public sector should 'get a dose' of their own.

    Your council tax bill is most likely to have gone up because the prices charged by private contractors has gone up - so someone has had that 'extra money' - it's not you, so who is it?

    ...did you notice the car your boss is driving lately?

  • Comment number 25.

    17. At 12:58pm on 20 Oct 2010, waitedtoolong wrote:

    "I know a fire officer who was recently told cuts to his brigade of more than £1m will result in front line job losses. The Chief Fire Officer who told him has seen his pay rise from £80,000 p/a to £160,000 p/a in the last five years.

    This is typical of what I see of the waste, excess and attitude of the public services under Labour."


    ...why don't you go into the private sector and find a chief fire officer who is trained and skilled who is prepared to do the job for less.
    Don't you understand what the labour market is? - it's where people trade their skills for wages based on an agreement. It's been private sector wages that drive up public sector wages - just because yours haven't, doesn't mean the private sector in general haven't!!

    I'm interested that your last comment seems to indicate you can see a pattern based on one story of a fire officer?

    We'll see how things go when you're having to put out your own fires (or pay huge insurance premiums to have a private sector company cover you instead)

  • Comment number 26.

    Robert,

    Still no revolution, we can all sleep easier in our beds knowing that George is addressing the outrageous levels of debt that Labour incurred.

  • Comment number 27.

    The more I hear about the CSR, the more I like it. The Public sector really needs to become smaller, leaner, more efficient and more effective.

  • Comment number 28.

    so "never again will hardworking pensioners get just 75p rise" ... except of course what constitutes a pensioner is being changed .. many would prefer a 75p rise under Labour to having to work another 2 years before getting a higher pension

  • Comment number 29.

    Considering the mess we are in , I think it's a very reasonable spending review , with Whitehall taking the biggest hit( Rightly so).

    We just need to get the public pension deficit resolved in the next few years and we should be back on track , in terms of a sustainable public sector.

  • Comment number 30.

    19. At 12:59pm on 20 Oct 2010, Sam_From_Hendon wrote:

    "Good afternoon Robert,
    Another excellent blog. The lessons of Mersey fire service teach us that more can be done with less in Public services see http://www.economist.com/node/17209655?story_id=17209655 ."

    I'd like to see the private sector company which works on fire prevention when it's paid for the fires it puts out - thereby cutting their own revenue!!
    Don't you realise this could only happen in the public sector - the private sector would rather stick to the inefficient method that pays the money than actually seek out efficiency.


    "I recently landed at Heathrow when the UK Border Service went on strike. We came through passport control in record time. Both these instances show me that the ineffective, or bone idle, public services need to be modernised and streamlined."

    ...if we got rid of the police then we could all drive at whatever speed we like through towns and villages - thereby speeding everythign up and providing the sort of efficiency you recognise in the absence of the uk border service (although I'd be a little concerned about the terrorists walking through)

    "Everywhere I look I see efficient Private Sector against an ineffective an inefficient Public Sector."

    What, the efficiency of the private sector which is measured by 'profit'? How can a private sector company be efficient when there is an excess creamed off by the executives / owners so they can buy flash cars which are totally inefficient (or can you explain why a car needs to have a 4l engine to drive in a country where the maximum speed limit is 70mph - and in London where the actual speed achieved is about 8mph!)

    "I hope the TUC deliver a general strike in the next few months, I'm sure we won't notice any impact."

    I do too - because I can't wait to hear your moaning about the stink of the rotting rubbish in your street - like they are in Marseille right now.

    "Thanks,
    Neil"

    I thought you were 'sam' - of Hendon fame. Are we having trouble keeping track of our multiple personalities?

  • Comment number 31.

    There's a certain omen about the date today, 20/10/2010. This will be remembered for the time when Britain returned to a sensible plan relating to Government spending. Afterall, the Coalation garnered 59% of the vote at the last general election, so they have the mandate and political capital to deliver their sensible plan. With tight fiscal policy and loose Monetary policy, through the excellent Mervyrn King, the future is bright.

  • Comment number 32.

    much talk of spending millions to generate the "potential" for growth and jobs ... so why not give Forgemasters in Sheffield the loans they needed to take up "guarranteed" work that would have created profit for the Treasury, kept jobs and skills and maintained a technology and manufacturing industry sector ? ... one reason I can think of is that it was a promise made by the previous Govt.. whatever the reason those jobs and skills will now be lost abroad and the Treasury will not get the profit from the interest on the loan ..

  • Comment number 33.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 34.

    20. At 1:00pm on 20 Oct 2010, duvinrouge wrote:

    "The usual ruling class ploy - divide & rule.
    All workers, public & private, are being attacked to maintain/recover profit rates.
    Try explaining the cause of crises rather than who suffers more than who."

    Amen.

    Freeman and slave, patrician and plebeian, lord and serf, guild-master and journeyman, in a word, oppressor and oppressed, have stood in constant opposition to one another, carried on an uninterrupted, now hidden, now open fight, a fight that each time ended either in a revolutionary re-constitution of society at large, or in the common ruin of the contending classes.

  • Comment number 35.

    @23. At 1:09pm on 20 Oct 2010, writingsonthewall wrote:
    "1302: The BBC's Iain Watson says: The chancellor not only blames banks for some of Britain's problems but Labour for not regulating them effectively and says his banking levy will raise more than Labour's bonus tax."
    I'm confused: haven't the past few centuries shown that some form of a bust is inevitable, either as a consequence of the "business cycle" or as a result of currency speculation from someone like George Soros, or something else? Wouldn't it be impossible to implement either a light touch regulation or strict regulation which prevents such a thing reoccurring without a fundamental change in the way modern economics is operated?
    At least he didn't blame Joe Public for borrowing beyond their means. After all, I doubt the average person has the backing of a multi-billionaire whose interests are screwing up the fragile economies of the Caribbean for his own gain.
    "Classic - so the party of deregulation blames the party of over-regulation of not regulating enough!"
    Labour didn't exactly over-regulate the City's practices though, did it.

  • Comment number 36.

    "1330: The chancellor paves the way for rail ticket price increases by lifting the cap on regulated fares to RPI plus 3% for the three years from 2012. This, he says, will help pay for new rolling stock and improved passenger conditions."

    ....now the people can see how these cuts will affect them directly - maybe a few private sector workers will start to realise that they are subsidised by the Government and don't even realise it.

    Good luck with those rising fares - the passenger is expected to pay for the withdrawn subsidy - which will make "europes most expensive rail system" into "Europes most expensive rail system"!!

    UNLUCKY - maybe you should have shown some solidarity rather than fighting over the crumbs from the masters table.

  • Comment number 37.

    "Labour's Darlington MP Jenny Chapman asks whether the PM could name just four North East businesses which are planning to expand their workforce in the coming months."

    As if the PM is going to know what businesses in one of 650 constituencies if doing. More interesting is whether the said Jenny Chapman could, without doing research, name 4 businesses in her constituency employing say more than 200 people each and tell us what their business plans were - being a Labour MP anyone want to bet she is incapable doing so (in fact why bother asking her about the plans for those businesses can she simply name the businesses)

  • Comment number 38.

    @24. At 1:15pm on 20 Oct 2010, writingsonthewall wrote:
    "Your council tax bill is most likely to have gone up because the prices charged by private contractors has gone up - so someone has had that 'extra money' - it's not you, so who is it?"
    Kent council lost £40million during the collapse of the Icelandic banks (as did many other councils). Can't really blame that on private contractors per se.
    According to the Private Eye there was at least one council (Northumberland or something, can't remember) whose beancounters advised taking their money out of Icelandic banks as the risks were too great in comparison to the "reward" offered, and the council chief exec duly did so. So I wonder why the other council's beancounters did not provide the same advice, or if they did, why it was ignored.

  • Comment number 39.

    I know this isn't a blog post about bankers, but the following link is too good to miss.

    http://www.futuresmag.com/News/2010/10/Pages/Institutional-investors-say-no-to-fair-value-for-bank-loans.aspx

    In case the moderators remove the link. I have summarised it below.

    In a recent survey 66% of Institutional Investors opposed the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) proposal to require banks to value their assets according to the current market price. The same institutional investors that we trust to manage our pensions, investments, insurance policies etc.. If this proposal were to be adopted then bank balance sheets would all have to revalued and would show significant losses. So the people we trust to look after our money, actually only look after themselves. The financial system is haemorrhaging severely, so the Government and Institutional Investors are doing whatever they can to keep the system on life support. Banks are virtually bankrupt and if honesty, truth, and common sense were applied the banks are well and truly insolvent. Also for anyone who doesn't know this, I would also like to highlight that Institutional Investors earn their money from fees which incentivises them to continue propping up assest prices. How's that for a revelation?

    Solidarity amongst the peasants is what's needed. March on the City, bring it to a halt and don't forget to bring a spare pitchfork for me.

  • Comment number 40.

    Why are we passive in this country? It's not only about cuts. The other people were crammed in front of Oxford Circus Tube Station...Commuters had to wait and wait, I could not even cross to the other side of the street...Look at the French, they always resist...here we always complain within the framework set up by the so-called experts, the government and the media..Democracy has to challenge the economic structure otherwise the trap of parliament and elected government will always win!

  • Comment number 41.

    For years the Public sector was the Private sectors poor relation. Whilst the private sector basked in big bonuses, non contributary pensions and outrageous pay increases the Public sector ambled along with mediocre wage increases and contributary pensions.

    The wind changes and the Private sector no longer was the place to be. The Banks collapse and the governments bails them out. Lets steal from the poor cause the rich arent so rich anymore....

  • Comment number 42.

    #2 Forcing a pay cut on employees to avoid redundancies wouldn't be a great example of flexibility!

    About a year ago, the company I work put forward a series of alternative cost-saving measures, all of which were adjusted to save a comparable amount of money overall. The list read along the lines of:

    1) 10% pay cut
    2) Increased working hours
    3) Halved bonus/commission/non-salaried payments for several years
    4) 5% compulsory redundancies

    These were put to the company as a whole for comment, and the overwhelming feedback was to avoid redundancies. As such, everyone was given a free choice of 1,2 or 3 with management level employees automatically getting longer hours as well.

    Most people chose additional hours as this protected individual income. These, along with a slew of other tweaks to benefits and working terms, a recruitment freeze, etc. were put in place with a view to being reviewed in a few years' time to see if any can be returned to normal.

    So far, touch wood, its worked. It might not have been a perfect or universally loved solution, but it hasn't wrecked morale and isn't grumbled about day-in, day-out.

    However, it did require a heck of a lot of trust on the part of both employees and managers to pull it off, and a genuine belief that ignoring the problem was a short, sharp road to the money running out and redundancies. Those might present more of a challenge with some areas of the public sector, where I don't think there's as much trust, or as much belief in the necessity of the savings.

  • Comment number 43.

    > Even at the allegedly protected and sheltered BBC, there hasn't been a
    > year since I joined in February 2006 which hasn't seen cuts and job
    > losses (which will almost certainly be magnified in coming months as
    > a result of the new shrunken budgets being imposed on the corporation).

    Welcome to the real world, chum. The whole country's been like that since Mrs Thatcher was in power.

  • Comment number 44.

    26. At 1:23pm on 20 Oct 2010, Sam_From_Hendon wrote:

    "Robert,
    Still no revolution, we can all sleep easier in our beds knowing that George is addressing the outrageous levels of debt that Labour incurred."

    You need to buy some new history books - one's that go back further than the last 7 years.
    ....you keep telling yourself there's no revolution - seems to me the incapacitation of France over a measly increase of retirement age by 2 years is a sure sign that it's been running for a while - perhaps you need to start watching the NEWS and not the childrens programmes you seem to be getting your information from.

    27. At 1:24pm on 20 Oct 2010, Sam_From_Hendon wrote:

    "The more I hear about the CSR, the more I like it. The Public sector really needs to become smaller, leaner, more efficient and more effective."

    ..by efficient, do you mean 'more expensive'? - it loks like your rail fares are going up - maybe you'll have to resort to the Northern line - that's unless your now conveniently back in Switzerland.

    What a shame you are so keen to defend the CSR that you make yourself look so foolish by doing so!

  • Comment number 45.

    I imagine, Mr Peston, that if any journalists are losing their jobs then they are the ones on salaries a lot lower than yours. Yes, it will affect them, but how can you claim to understand the situation?

    I imagine that if you were to lose your job tomorrow you might be able to survive for a little while, possibly downsize your house or trade in the fancy car for a cheaper model. Many people affected by these cuts will be, as mentioned in an earlier comment, those just above minimum wage (cleaners, teaching assistants, catering staff and so on).

    Please don't try to say you are in a similar or worse position than they are, it is fairly obvious that the BBC would not allow their Business Editor to a) be made redundant without a huge payoff and b)be made redundant anyway!

    I have to say i agree with the person who said their opinion of you had dropped considerably.

  • Comment number 46.

    I am a private sector employer. Early in the recession we consulted with staff who agreed a reduction from a 5 to 4 day week rather than a 20% reduction in staff numbers necessarily being applied. Our loyal, hard working and realistic staff have, as a consequence, all kept their jobs via their empathising with and supporting our aim to retain an able and efficient team who will have the opportunity step back up to a 5 day week when the economy improves. While it is understandable that people may dwell on who is to blame for the financial troubles, the only productive response is to work around the challenges meantime and be ready for the upturn [which will arise sometime down the line].

    The public sector must rise to the challenge of becoming much more efficient and productive than it is at present in some sectors. There are some truly wonderful and dedicated people working hard and effectively in the public sector but there remains a substantial core of people in the public sector who do not cut it and whose attitudes have no place in a modern and dynamic economy. There also remains many systems and structures in the public sector which appear to be self serving for the employees in so far as they are all about staff heavy bureaucracy with insufficient focus on service level delivery.
    When at university, I could have picked out the students who would seek a career 'out of the way of the buses' in the public sector and I would have been pretty accurate. Sadly most [but not all] of them were of pretty mediocre ability comparatively and I think that these types impair the ability of the real talent in the public sector to improve efficiency and to evolve. Lets hope the realistic and talented people in the public sector prevail in the response to the cuts while taking care to protect the lower income earners in their number who can ill afford a drop in earnings.

  • Comment number 47.

    It happens every time Labour have power, and has become most noticeable right from 1997 onwards - the Public Sector unions and Labour ministers link arms and head off down the yellow brick road. They pour £ Billions into every crackpot scheme and answer every query with a new Quango or department. Then they bust the Treasury, get voted out and somebody else has to clear up. If Gordon had kept his foot on the brakes, we could have weathered the Bank-led crash, but no, it was better to pay Chief exec's of Local Government 4 times the Prime Ministers salary !
    The Coalition will now take 5 years to reduce public spending to the total after inflation that we had in 1997 (distributed more towards Health . . .).
    But the most corrosive impact is that 13 years of recruiting and 13 years of "moneybags" means these PUBLIC SERVANTS forget why they are being paid in the first place - they are there to provide services.
    Its about time we made them provide those services at a good economic cost - we don't need literally hundreds of local authorities each with their own Payroll service, Finance service, HR Service - regional, or county based would save Billions.
    Its the same with Police and Fire services local services shouldn’t mean local admin for them.
    This is part of the problem - a burden of no value – except to the Labour Party who can count on 90% of the Public Sector workforce voting for them for self-preservation – this is the point of the election and formation of a Coalition Government – the productive part of the economy – those whose jobs generate wealth as opposed to spending others – has rejected the old ways. We could never afford this State largesse, it took the Crash to prove it.
    But worse of all the Local and National Government is packed full of “Managers” (a pay-justifying title if ever I saw one) who believe they must spend their budget every year to keep their position.
    We need to change this - introduce bonus’s for Government officers to reduce their annual spend (maintaining public service standards and after taking their reward into account) – make it a positive measure of public manager performance to deliver more for less – that will save the taxpayer even more than George is aiming for now !

  • Comment number 48.

    Several things:
    First we can only make our way out of trouble - that means investing in making things - real manufacturing creating wealth - to that end ALL government spending should be ok UK products.
    Second don't bleat about the BBC, frankly while it pays 'stars' and 'executives' such enormous packages it can't be serious about being short of dosh - our dosh. Cut some of the Jonathan Ross style excesses to size - 100k, if they don't like it they can find their money elsewhere and the BBC can create new talent. Same really for the executives - most of them really only spend time in meetings or on the golf course.
    Third, for heavens sake look at the ONS website - 27% of the working age population are not working - if you aren't working then you are not employed, that means you are UN employed. This is vastly more than 8% and is indeed one of the main reasons we are in so much trouble. The numbers are daunting - 27% not working, 20% working for the government (i.e. spending our wealth), 15% working part time - thus leaving only about 35% of the working age population working in the private (potentially wealth creating) sector - of those in the private sector some are management, lots are banks/insurance/ etc. (i.e. leaches), many are accountants working out how to 'reduce tax' and lots of the rest are shop keepers - leaving us somewhere around 5% of the working age population making something - and its only when you make something that you create wealth (the Chinese and Germans know this which is why they have grown a vastly larger manufacturing sector). When you consider the other parts of the population - retired and kids then about 1 in 100 peopel are actually supporting us all.... now you know why we are in trouble - real trouble - and why this government is no better equiped than the last to help.
    Try putting forward some questions that will help guide these guys towards the right answers.... single flat rate benefit for all so no one starves and there is no way you can 'lose out by going to work', single flat rate tax on all income (so you can't avoid it), then a series of levies on those selling products in the UK we consider worthy (petrol, fags, beer...). Scrap things like council tax and BBC licence fee.
    Take the money they raise and spend it - defence, education, health... in that order, and only on those things. Any spending on those to be from British workers (don't care if its a British company if the product is made in Germany, China, US... we don't want it).

  • Comment number 49.

    31. At 1:30pm on 20 Oct 2010, Sam_From_Hendon wrote:

    "There's a certain omen about the date today, 20/10/2010. This will be remembered for the time when Britain returned to a sensible plan relating to Government spending."

    What a shame it's taken over 50 years to work this one out - and who have you been voting for during this period?

    "Afterall, the Coalation garnered 59% of the vote at the last general election, so they have the mandate and political capital to deliver their sensible plan."

    59% of the vote - but not 59% of the voters - in fact the Tories polled less than 23% of the people as their 'mandate' - and in case you have forgotten (or they didn't cover it in playschool this week) they only achieved power through Nick cleggs lust for power (which has / will destroy his party)

    "With tight fiscal policy and loose Monetary policy, through the excellent Mervyrn King, the future is bright."

    ...and you might not go bankrupt on all your overmortgaged BTL properties! I bet everyone is so pleased we're commiting so much to bail you out - I mean for an accountant it's a little bit embarrassing when yourr end up bankrupt.

  • Comment number 50.

    Its very sad for aay British worker to lose their job ... but private sector employees lose their jobs all the time and the public sector just think about their next strike etc for e.g. more pay.

    Some public sector employees losing their jobs have had 'non-jobs' for many years at the tax payer's expense and some have been wasting a lot of public money.

    Still very sad when British workers lose their jobs ... perhaps the 'foreign workers' jobs should go first as a sovereign and constitutional rights issue?

  • Comment number 51.

    35. At 1:35pm on 20 Oct 2010, Stuart Wilson wrote:

    "Labour didn't exactly over-regulate the City's practices though, did it."

    ...or maybe the banks are just un-regulatable? - my point was that the party of no regulation is now claiming to be a party of heavy regulation in a reverse lie of huge magnitude......if you believe the banks weren't regulated well before - then you need to exlpain the Tory party poliy ideology to the rest of us - because that's what it advocates

    ...all this 'we'll regulate' guff is to fool people that the Tories won't let the banks get away with it - whcih of course they will - because they're all friends!!!

  • Comment number 52.

    15. At 12:55pm on 20 Oct 2010, des1962 wrote:
    "Although I do not like to hear of anyone losing their jobs, I cannot feel sympathy for public service workers in anyway, working in the 'private sector'.
    My coucil tax has increased on average 10% over the last few years, at a time when I have only received one wage increase in the last 5 years, and had to endure a 10% pay cut last year to safeguard against job cuts.
    People probably won't feel any sympathy for me either, the one thing I can say though, is I enjoy my job and I'm proud of working for an engineering company, who when exporting plant abroad, brings money into our economy."

    Hi Des, Well said. I'm in the same position and have the same feelings as you although I now earn 25% less than 5 years ago. Robert is right in as much there will be many people saying "Welcome to my world" today. Time to face reality folks.

  • Comment number 53.

    "...why don't you go into the private sector and find a chief fire officer who is trained and skilled who is prepared to do the job for less.
    Don't you understand what the labour market is? - it's where people trade their skills for wages based on an agreement. It's been private sector wages that drive up public sector wages - just because yours haven't, doesn't mean the private sector in general haven't!!"

    Indeed... but then you don't say trained in what ... he is actually a manager not a firefighter, so he needs to be trained and skilled in management of an organisation. Now we have the RIGHT job spec we can have a look around... and I will do the job for less.

    The idea that he has become double as good, or that he is the only available person, or even that the private sector wages have doubled in the last 5 years are all as laughable as they are wrong and stupid.

    These guys - and the council officers, chiefs of water boards, school heads, NHS managers... all are living off the stupidity of others and taking far far far more money for less responsibility.

  • Comment number 54.

    I run a small business, for years small businesses have been targeted by government and used as "cash cows" for their shortcomings. I have not been able to pay my staff a wage increase for 2 years now; I have reduced the amount I take from the business which, incidently, is less than I could earn as an employee.
    People in the public sector have been protected for too long, time for a reality check now me thinks! Let the top dogs in councils bear the brunt, get rid of them or combine roles between local councils: we live in Dorset, within 8 miles we have 2 town halls where all staff are duplicated - why? I cover the same area from 1 office, why can't local councils? If they want to kick up a fuss over reductions in wages or fewer of their own to do whatever they do, then I say let them get on with it. If we in the private sector did so this country would grind to a halt; if a few pen pushers stop work who would notice?

  • Comment number 55.

    As a public sector worker I am not a fat cat by any means. I am still paying a mortgage. I have never claimed benefits and I have worked all my life. I am over retirement age but I cannot retire as I cannot afford too. so how come people think people like me are better off. My son earns more than me in the private sector. My pension will not be huge, in fact I will probably find life a bit of a struggle. I have never been able to afford expensive holidays or cars. Nor expensive houses. So as a public sector worker why do people think I deserve to go? Wait till we are all culled and then see what happens to the services you get.

  • Comment number 56.

    38. At 1:39pm on 20 Oct 2010, Stuart Wilson wrote:

    "Kent council lost £40million during the collapse of the Icelandic banks (as did many other councils). Can't really blame that on private contractors per se."

    - no you can blame that on private sector banks.

    "According to the Private Eye there was at least one council (Northumberland or something, can't remember) whose beancounters advised taking their money out of Icelandic banks as the risks were too great in comparison to the "reward" offered, and the council chief exec duly did so. So I wonder why the other council's beancounters did not provide the same advice, or if they did, why it was ignored."

    ....or maybe they made the critical mistake of 'trusting the private sector'.

    What you don't seem to appreciate is that teh reason these councils were all saving money in these banks was because they were trying to get value for money

    I'm sure if they leave the cash in a non-interest bearing account - you won't have any complaints about your council tax filling the gap will you?

  • Comment number 57.

    48. At 1:49pm on 20 Oct 2010, anotherfakename wrote:

    "Several things:
    First we can only make our way out of trouble - that means investing in making things - real manufacturing creating wealth - to that end ALL government spending should be ok UK products."

    ...and how are we going to 'trade our way out of trouble' with both the US and Japan hell bent on devaluing their currencies to a lower level than ours in order to boost their own exports - because that's their plan too!

    The sort of manufacturing renaissance you crave requires public investment to build, not public cuts - or are you hoping it will simply 'fall out of the sky'

  • Comment number 58.

  • Comment number 59.

    As usual the public sector workers and those under the delusional guidance of the unions complain the loudest about the cuts. One correspondent suggests that the 'stiff upper lip' and 'grin and bear it' attitudes of the British seem misplaced. As far as I can see those attitudes went in the sixties and seventies and were replaced with expectation of complete employment and sustenance from the government and the criticism of the successful and wealthy as the cause of any ensuing hardship. In other words, stop whingeing and get on with it! People think public sector workers are lazy and over paid for a reason.

  • Comment number 60.

    Usually I agree with Robert Peston but what he has said about the media is totally wrong. The media will indeed have scant sympathy with public sector workers losing their jobs but not because of hard pressed journalists who have had pay cuts in modest incomes. The response of the media will be determined by very rich propietors and well off editors and commentators. They will have scant sympathy because they despise people on modest incomes, particularly if they work in the public sector.

  • Comment number 61.

    Greedy parasites will always attack the quality of life of the less well off.

    The elite controls politics and business. Sycophantism is the best way for journos to pursue their personal interests.

  • Comment number 62.

    Im a little disappointed in you Robert. As many above have highlighted one way or another, the problem with your belief that since media types have lost their jobs, newly out of work public sector workers will get no sympathy or solidarity from said media.

    Perhaps some/many people have lost jobs at the beeb since your joining in 2006...but evidently not you. And anyone still in the media who managed to hold onto their jobs all the while, clearly haven't faced the reality of being made unemployed from these cuts and so are again unjustifiably unsympathetic.

    Its not a competition to see who suffers the most. Then again, perhaps you're right, perhaps the media know whats coming, perhaps in total numbers or percentages there may be more media jobs lost than public sector service jobs but that should tell you one thing at least...that a journo's value has dropped considerably since the avenues for more greatly informed and insightful narrative have been opened via blogs/internet access etc to those who can inform the world of their often unbiased and expert views for free! Can't see many people deciding to police the streets, collect the rubbish or fight wars for free - can you? If these are being cut, the media are likely in for a longer rough ride!

  • Comment number 63.

    53. At 1:58pm on 20 Oct 2010, anotherfakename wrote:

    "Indeed... but then you don't say trained in what ... he is actually a manager not a firefighter, so he needs to be trained and skilled in management of an organisation. Now we have the RIGHT job spec we can have a look around... and I will do the job for less."

    ...and this simplistic view of public services is how we end up with hospital managers who know nothing about hospitals - just because you've been on a few management away days chasing around playing games with your co-workers, doesn't mean you can manage a fire service.
    ...although there's no reason to say you can't - so why haven't you applied yet? - I mean who's going to turn down the chance of employing someone more competent who will do the job for less??

    "The idea that he has become double as good, or that he is the only available person, or even that the private sector wages have doubled in the last 5 years are all as laughable as they are wrong and stupid."

    ...wrong and stupid? - well why aren't you doing that job already - I mean you knew about it before I did. I've got some 2 bit management experience too - thanks for the tip - I'm off to brush up my CV!

    "These guys - and the council officers, chiefs of water boards, school heads, NHS managers... all are living off the stupidity of others and taking far far far more money for less responsibility."

    Chiefs of water boards? - aren't they private sector employees?

    I agree NHS managers are a waste of time - but then all management is a waste of time.....oh no, wait a minute, that won't help me get this job in the fire service - scrap that last comment - management is a key part of all service provision.

    School heads a waste of time? - interesting, so how's this going to get better with newly 'opted out' schools having heads setting their own pay?

    mmmmmm - it's all a bit contradictory for me - better just attack 'council officers' - although I'm not sure who this means, is it the meals on wheels guy, or maybe the chief executive of your local council paying himself a nice big fat wage - of which the Tory councils are famed for doing the best / worst!

  • Comment number 64.

    I wholeheartedly agree the public sector has some dead wood to rid itself of in its aim to become efficient, but unlike Neil, sorry, Sam from Hendon, to presume the private sector is anymore efficient is hilarious.

    To consider we are in a better situation unemployment-wise because its not as bad as some economists thought it would be is also hilarious. Are these the same economists who saw the credit crunch looming and the subsequent crisis worldwide and advised us all of the perils? Or would they be the same economists who missed a trick and will likely miss the next once which will be the further increase in unemployment, subsequent 'double dip' (which is a farce since were still in the first dip albeit for the BoE propping up the nation artificially) and long term suffering of the world for the next decade?

    If Mervyn and co in charge are the ones whose guidance will mean our future is bright, I'm terrified. Its partly their stewardship which has ended us up in this situation - Mervyn even admitted that himself!

  • Comment number 65.

    hame on you Robert. Instead of showing support, afterall you are a public sector worker, you are inferring we should all bend down and take our punishment without complaint. This destruction of the public services is to simply keep the money rolling into the banks, like the drug addicts they are they cant get enough, and so our nations real wealth (and not the debt which is simply a claim on wealth), is being flushed down the toilet. I note despite the cull the government deficit, as is has with all governments since the war, will continue to rise in the hands of the Tories. In reality it will never be reduced or paid off, and the inevitable depression that is now to follow, will prove the point perfectly. For those that support the cuts, welcome back to the great depression, our fate will now arrive a lot sooner thanks to the cuts. As for economic growth, maybe in our dreams, but we're not going to see any of that for a decade or so. I look forward to next year, when you will see people like myself being laid off, whilst the government simultanously dips once again into our pockets to bail out the banks once again as they will not be able to repay the money we are due. Perhaps then the daylight robbery of our nations wealth will be more clear.

  • Comment number 66.

    writingsonthewall wrote:
    15. At 12:55pm on 20 Oct 2010, des1962 wrote:

    Your council tax bill is most likely to have gone up because the prices charged by private contractors has gone up - so someone has had that 'extra money' - it's not you, so who is it?
    -------------------------------

    I believe most of the increase was to cover pensions shortfalls - stioll can't have the little darlings having to retire on less than index-linked, final salary can we ?

  • Comment number 67.

    WOTW: You really are a loney, sad, bitter piece of work. i suggest you come off the doll and get a job as we can no longer suffer you constant ranting eevryday. It's good to see some educated responses today and that people are no starting to face up to reality which is the pain suffered over the last couple of years in the private sector is now going to felt in the public sector. We are all people just working to earn a living, be you Private or public, as we are not the cause of the problem. Any anger you have for these hard times should be directed firmly in the direction of Gordan Brown and the rest of the incompetent Labour Government!

    Also WOTH: I could excuse Sky as they're all cretinous morons anyway (a standard which is suitable for their audiences)

    What are the odds on you sitting at home on us workers expense watching Sky TV?

  • Comment number 68.

    RP wrote:

    "So human nature being what it is, I fear journos will be pretty anaesthetised to the pain awaiting their state confreres."

    An utterly unnecessary and pointless remark - I don't think a generalised statement on the sentiment of journalists over the cuts announced today is suitable for the bbc's Business Editor to be 'reporting' in his blog. I'm not entirely sure whether this is to inspire sympathy for journalists or to belittle the impact these cuts will have on many, many individuals, but either way I am not impressed by this supposed 'journalism'.

  • Comment number 69.

    I would sympathise with anyone in a redundancy situation

    However, being self employed I have noticed a complacency within the public sector

    A business where I was working published numbers of missed appointments each month. The vast majority came from public sector. The practitioners still had to pay for the business facility even tho the client did not show up, therefore they had no fee. Public sector seem not to have any concept of private enterprise. They are paid whether they turn up, meet a target, do the job badly, whatever. Their money hits their account on the last day of the month come hell or high water.

    A local builder I know sometimes has to wait 90 days before being paid by the council, even after paying out for materials up front. The payments are delayed by council minions shuffling paper, being inefficient but it doesn't matter because they still get paid themselves. They have no notion that the contractor has his own mortgage/bills to pay.

    I think that there are going to be some rude awakenings.

  • Comment number 70.

    49. At 1:52pm on 20 Oct 2010, writingsonthewall wrote:


    59% of the vote - but not 59% of the voters - in fact the Tories polled less than 23% of the people as their 'mandate' - and in case you have forgotten (or they didn't cover it in playschool this week) they only achieved power through Nick cleggs lust for power (which has / will destroy his party)

    ------------------

    So what % of the voters did Labour governments attract - of course Brown never got a single vote either from the electorate nor from his own party - and this enabled him to p*ss it up the wall to an enormous height.

    btw, Labour governments 1997 - 30% of total voters, 2001 24%, 2005 21% - so don't give me mandates

  • Comment number 71.

    THIS IS SO BAD I HAVE RE-OPENED MY BLOG

    GC

  • Comment number 72.

    I am not sure that this post shows you in a particularly good light Robert. What about journalistic independence and impartiality?

  • Comment number 73.

    I have sympathy with anyone that loses their job - regardless of sector. The comments about the private sector having accepted this as part of life are spot on though. We all know that we could be next. The public sector have not had to endure this in the past, it's simply the cold harsh reality of the world we live in.

  • Comment number 74.

    "He added countries must guard against trade protectionism to avoid disastrous consequences similar to the collapse of the global economy in the 1930s"

    Why is the GOTBOE still wittering on about the 1930s as if there was any parallel? As Tony Blair angrily (more or less) said to the leader of UKIP once 'this is 2010 not 1940. If this country doesn't shut down import from Asia it's back to the Stone Age.

    The only hope for the UK is to recapture the manufacturing initiative from China. Of course China will go to war over that. QED. Hello Future.

    GC

  • Comment number 75.

    "Your council tax bill is most likely to have gone up because the prices charged by private contractors has gone up - so someone has had that 'extra money' - it's not you, so who is it?"

    What ROT!

    Inefficiency and pointless, mindless pathetic paper shuffling, who needs half the nose poking that goes on into other peoples business.
    Police and council pensions have also hurt the rest of us - massive increases to cover the shortfall in the pension funds.
    Health and safety stupidity - making stupid rules that mean we can't pick our nose without some council no body sticking their oar in and making us do a risk assessment, full in half a dozen forms and get public liability insurance.
    And don't even start on the number of chief execs in councils that seem to think they are worth 100% more than last year...


    We should SCRAP council tax and fund each local council based on the number of people and a fixed amount. That would get rid of many many paper shufflers and accountants.

  • Comment number 76.

    How many "private sector" jobs will go due to the reduction in services contracted out? Much of the private sector isn't really private you know.

    This is beggar my neighbour politics. Successive governments have sold the real economy down the river.

    As for the business leaders who supported the cuts - (1) I have a list of firms to boycott now and (2) they obviously don't understand the bigger picture. Will they wail when their own firms are clobbered by the double dip? Or, like Sir Shred, will they be comforted by their own gold-plated pensions and what they have already managed to loot?

  • Comment number 77.

    I was made redundant because of the abolition of the Greater London Council/Inner London Education Authority, 20-odd years ago, and have been self employed ever since. The private sector seems to me to lack the public service ethos, and, obsessed with targets, productivity, cost-cutting, profit and bonuses fails completely to understand customer service or treat its staff fairly and decently. I expect better of you, Robert, rather than a lazy lapse into the gospel according to Sugar, Green and Digby-Jones. You haven't been talking to Will Hutton too long have you? Your father would be ashamed of you. And there are easier ways of applying to be a Conservative candidate......

  • Comment number 78.

    In nearly every company in the private sector a 10% cut in the work force would have little or no effect on the company performance as long as the cuts were done in the right places. Over time a company (in this case the public sector) will have taken on staff for particularr roles however over time these roles quite often disappear or are duplicated but the staff retained. The public sector is so protected that when it needs to join the real world it comes as a huge shock. Thirteen years of public sector cosseting have brought us to this. It's a hard life in the real world.

  • Comment number 79.

    This is all bull***t, there is one way of making the deficit reduction fair, income tax. Up by 1p - 2p in the pound for all ernings over £18K, but people don't like to see their pay packets affected do they, they would rather be oblivious to indirect tax than actually see it in their pocket.

    My department is being hit by 7.1% on year for five years but it's ok, government have got £30Billion to spend on roads, lets not forget the new rail link and the highly important crossrail project.

  • Comment number 80.

    67. At 2:34pm on 20 Oct 2010, Ossie Bayram

    "WOTW... i suggest you come off the doll" - how very insulting. I'm sure Mrs WOTW won't like being refered to as such!

    "can no longer suffer you constant ranting eevryday" - for some, it might be hard to stomach but consider the severity of the situation and the rant as you put it, becomes quite justified. The way of the world at the moment isnt a situation that should be taken lightly, naively or in a way which is spun to convince you its not as tragic as it really is.

    "What are the odds on you sitting at home on us workers expense watching Sky TV?" - If you'd bothered to read and comprehend the posts illustrating the education the chap clearly has (regardless whether you agree or not), I'd venture there is zero chance he is.

  • Comment number 81.

    "If growth in private-sector employment is to be celebrated by British people, those jobs need to go - presumably - to British people, which can't be guaranteed."

    Good point. But unfortunately the private sector is already creating jobs and these are already being taken by non British employees, simply because the British workforce doesn't have the skills or enthusiasm to do them. Or they can get more by staying on benefits. Why do you think we have so many unemployed anyway? More than 50% of new employees in my (highly technical) field are recruited from overseas - why would anyone beleive that is likely to change during the next 4 years?

  • Comment number 82.

    "What appears to have happened is that private sector workers have protected their jobs by showing great flexibility in the terms and conditions of their employment - taking pay cuts, agreeing to temporarily reduce hours worked, and so on.
    A very big question for the public sector is whether both employers and employees can show similar imagination and flexibility..."
    You see, the problem is not always that we as public sector workers will not do or consider being more flexible or taking pay cuts (although I recognise that not all can). For example, I knew before the CSR that I would definitely lose my job within the next 12 months - end of story. I have no choice and have no options to offer up. Given the option of being more flexible, taking a pay cut I would have certainly considered it. But the problem for me is that I work for an organisation that the new government despises and wants rid of at all costs. That is a political (and arguably an incorrect) view and nothing would have changed that. So it is not always quite as simple as speaking to your boss to offer flexibility, or to offer to take a pay cut, because many public sector workers are pawns in a political game.
    I don't want your sympathy but at least try to understand that the options available to some private sector workers are not always open to those of us in the public sector.

  • Comment number 83.

    I think you are right Robert. Besides most people in the country support cutting back on the public sector. Hardly worth wasting newsprint telling us all there is no waste to cut.

    Since more than half of Labour voters are one or more of: Scottish, Welsh, unionists or on benefits one can hardly expect them to be supportive of a society demanding that they provide value for money. Not much fun next to 13 years of power unaccountability and excess.

    Once the other 6.5 million public sector workers who avoid unemployment realise that they have survived they will stop worrying and resisting a change that has come and gone.

    Life goes on.

    Its a tough but good day.

  • Comment number 84.

    Once again so many of you are falling for the political trick of getting us to attack ourselves, ie private versus public sector, distracting you from the real culprits, the rich and the bankers, who have bankrupted our country: open your eyes.

  • Comment number 85.

    So the working person takes the hit for the irresponsible actions of the greedy bankers looking to cash in on their so called reputable position whilst the rest of us go about our mundane lives looking to pay our mortgage and put food on the table. I see the pension age is creeping up again which is genius given the recent rise in youth unemployment. Of course it won't affect those who Cameron, Letwin and co represent so no hard questionson that one down the local conservative club. Why can't we take a leaf out of the French book. At least the people still have a say in the decisions taken by their government. Be very interesting to see what (if any) backlash happens this end, especially given the fact that there was no march of any concequence on the streets of London post MP expensesor the credit crunch. Nothing a few angry letters to the papers won't sort out eh?
    Idea? Offset future bank dividends against part of the deficit instead of a quick buck selling them off because you can gamble it all on the banks returning to full profit in no time wondering what all the fuss was about.

  • Comment number 86.

    Am I missing something here? Are people REALLY missing the big loop you are all talking about?
    Firstly, in the OP for this blog he stated that Journo's would, by human nature after their own cuts, have less empathy NOT THAT HE WOULD, people read the blog, not interpret - you don't know, ask not assume!
    I would like to ask a question for all those that are saying the public sector must tighten belts - are we proposing cuts of wages, departments or actual jobs?
    You want job cuts (just like those, like I was in the private sector, are used to nearly every year, if not usually a 3-4 year cycle) then these people you take away the jobs of will become un-employed, needing benefits and a new job in a market that has a massive competition already.
    You want wage cuts? Ok, but then everything costs more, people earning less and the economy has less pumped into it by us spending.
    You want department cuts/removal? Again, we are assuming the budgets are just used up because they should be to show you work to what you can get instead of being efficient. If this is NOT the case, that means job losses and the cycle begins again.
    We need to stop looking for the quick answers and look at EVERY possibility and stop requiring an answer NOW NOW NOW!
    Having worked both private and public sector and now going through a massive (and it seems soon very expensive) re-education of myself I can stand in the middle and point out what I know from previous experience (and this is from a "low level worker" and management position in both sectors. Quick answers are like putting a bandage over an amputation, it might make things look better at first but when that bandage is removed you see the mess it left behind and could lead to more complications than it fixes. Long term goal, not right here right now!

  • Comment number 87.

    A refreshingly realistic article that tells it how it is in terms of the difference between private and public sector employment. One wonders how employable public sector workers will be in the private sector given that those losing their jobs will be the least able and less likely to cope with the rigours of private sector employment.

  • Comment number 88.

    At 1:30pm on 20 Oct 2010, Sam_From_Hendon wrote:

    "There's a certain omen about the date today, 20/10/2010. This will be remembered for the time when Britain returned to a sensible plan relating to Government spending."

    What a shame it's taken over 50 years to work this one out - and who have you been voting for during this period?

    "Afterall, the Coalation garnered 59% of the vote at the last general election, so they have the mandate and political capital to deliver their sensible plan."

    I am one of the voters you are included in the 59% .. I did not vote for a coalition, I did not vote for the Tories, I voted for a Liberal in the hope he could overturn a Tory majority in this seat and because I could stomach the policies they were standing on .. I do not support the coalition agreement and I will never vote Liberal again because I can never again believe what they tell me before an election..

  • Comment number 89.

    "...In that period, much of British industry was forced to become more competitive by the strength of the pound. So when the downturn came, there wasn't a huge amount of fat to remove."

    There is a great deal of talk about Fire chiefs that get £160k a year but very little of admin staff on 12k, or for that matter IT professionals that are on less than 1/3 of a contractors wage (a fundamental reason why cutting costs by "reliance of better IT" doesn’t actually work.

    The vast majority of civil servants have already traded decent wages for stability. Take stability away and all you will be left with are “those that can’t” working for U.K plc

  • Comment number 90.

    78. At 2:57pm on 20 Oct 2010, michael wrote:

    "It's a hard life in the real world."

    Is that the 'real world' where you work for next to nothing or face unemployment and continuously moan about the unfairness of it all? Meanwhile your boss spends half the year in Monaco so he doesn't have to pay his full tax due?

    Doesn't sound like a world we should be trying to emulate - rather eliminate. Still I suppose if people think that debt slavery is "the best they wil achieve" they can continue in their forlorn hope that "one day I might be that boss" - like so many lottery players who end up hugely disappointed every weekends....

  • Comment number 91.

    Robert obviously knows nothing of working in the public sector. We undergo constant change and reorganization at every change in Government or even minister. I have been at risk of redundancy 5 times in my public sector career. There have been constant vacancy freezes and I am aware of millions taken out of services in efficiencies year on year over decades.

    This myth that the public sector is full of people, who are not creative , not used to change not prepared needs to be challenged.

  • Comment number 92.

    And about time too!! There is far too much `paper shuffling`going on and `quick , look busy the boss is coming`. It needs to be reeled in and now is the time. If you have a `genuine job`, that fully occupies your working day there is not much to worry about, if you spend half your day on `site visits` or in `pre meetings` or you find other members of staff in different departments duplicating the same work as you then start to panic!

    The good times are over for those that have `pulled the wool` over the last decade or so.

  • Comment number 93.

    The big difference Robert between public sector workers and journalists is that we do worthwhile jobs to improve society. Which bit of your assessment or your reporting on the economy actually helps to educate our children, cure our sick, or look after our elderly? When was the last time one of your economic reports helped to clean the streets of mess, lock up criminals, and protect the health and safety of ourselves and colleagues at work?

    Having said that, looking at some of the postings across these blogs, we have failed with our education system to teach people proper grammar and spelling, so perhaps the journalists can take over the English lessons delivered in our schools.

    We don't need sympathy from the media, just honest reporting of the facts without a political agenda driving it or the profits of media companies.

  • Comment number 94.

    I get rather fed up with people in the Public Sector complaining. I was made redundant 18 months ago, and despite many applications for jobs, I still don't have a permanent one. I've used up my redundancy pay, I'm down to 11,000 in savings (from 16,000 in one and to 0,000 now in another). I've never earned a very high salary so I don't have much of a pension. Yet all my working life I've heard about people in the public sector who can retire at 50, have a full pension, and then get another nice little part time or consultancy job to keep them going. Why should we pay for people in the public sector to have these advantages? While retiring at 50 on a full pension can happen in the private sector, at least they are not using our hard-earned money to finance their comfortable lives.

    I don't think well-off people realise how little some of us have to manage on. Some of the bonuses people in the city get make my (former) annual salary look ridiculous. Whatever we earn, we have to pay the same for petrol, basic food, bus and train fares, etc., etc.

    While I'm ranting, why don't I point out how unfairly treated single people are compared to married people. Somehow, no one seems to realise how hard it is to manage on one salary. No one pities the fact that it costs more to live alone than in a couple. We are the poor blighters financing everyone else, and the only perk we get is a little bit off our council tax.

  • Comment number 95.

    The problem with the Economy (and by this I am referring to literally everything: markets, jobs, retail, banks etc.) is that NOBODY truly understands even HALF of it in any real depth.

    Which means NOBODY can make an informed decision about

    1) What needs to happen
    2) What will happen
    3) What alternatives there are

    Without consulting a HUGE number of specialists across a wide range of specialities.

    Which, broadly, means every post above mine that says anything other than "I don't know what the solution is, at all", is misinformed...no matter what side of the fence 'tis on.

  • Comment number 96.

    All this talk seems to assume that 500,000 public sector workers will be on the dole tomorrow. These cuts are spread over 4 years and most jobs will go via natural wastage, such as people retiring and not being replaced. So all this talk about 500,000-1,000,000 extra on the dole is complete nonsense.

    Most people will only be a little worse off and will be MUCH, MUCH BETTER OFF than most people in teh rest of the world. Focus on what you do have not the little you're about to lose. Most of the world would be deliriously happy on half what we get. I'm in Thailand at the moment where the minimum wage is about £4/day. Yes, £4/day not hour. Think about what that's like before wallowing in self-pity.

  • Comment number 97.

    "As far as I can see those attitudes went in the sixties and seventies and were replaced with expectation of complete employment and sustenance from the government and the criticism of the successful and wealthy as the cause of any ensuing hardship."

    Then you can't see very far. Those attitudes arose after the Second World War, when after millions of people sacrificed their lives they refused to go back to the grinding and abject poverty suffered during the 20's and 30's after yet millions more people laid down their lives for the owner class from 1914 to 1918.

  • Comment number 98.

    75. At 2:52pm on 20 Oct 2010, anotherfakename wrote:

    "Your council tax bill is most likely to have gone up because the prices charged by private contractors has gone up - so someone has had that 'extra money' - it's not you, so who is it?"

    "What ROT!"

    Oooh - that will teach me to use facts and experience over tabloid based information.

    "Inefficiency and pointless, mindless pathetic paper shuffling, who needs half the nose poking that goes on into other peoples business."

    ...now that's really tabloid - how many times have you actually worked within the public sector? - or don't you need to because tabloid journalists have already 'not worked' inside one for you?

    "Police and council pensions have also hurt the rest of us - massive increases to cover the shortfall in the pension funds."

    ...well the police like to have some security for all their hard work - or is your private sector mind so warped you would rather have inependent vigilantes running the streets?

    "Health and safety stupidity - making stupid rules that mean we can't pick our nose without some council no body sticking their oar in and making us do a risk assessment, full in half a dozen forms and get public liability insurance."

    ...so you're not aware that most of these 'health and safety' stories you read in your red top are actually the publics mis-interpretation of the rules? - well what was I expecting, someone who actually knew the basics?

    "And don't even start on the number of chief execs in councils that seem to think they are worth 100% more than last year..."

    Now that's something I can agree with - like the leaders of Croydon and Newham councils...
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/10517000

    (that's Croydon - the CONSERVATIVE led council - you know, the same people dishing out the 'we must tighten our belts' stuff on the telly)


    "We should SCRAP council tax and fund each local council based on the number of people and a fixed amount. That would get rid of many many paper shufflers and accountants."

    .....so no concerns about a 2 tier system then - but the question is will you be complaining when the 'estate down the road' makes your life hell because of the uneducated masses who have 0 employment prospects and see burgulary as their only choice in profession?

    You need to brush up on your law of unintended consequences fella - for what looks like a simple cut here and there will often cost you in the long run.

  • Comment number 99.

    86. At 3:11pm on 20 Oct 2010, LeedsPremChamps2020

    "Firstly, in the OP for this blog he stated that Journo's would, by human nature after their own cuts, have less empathy NOT THAT HE WOULD"

    You fail your own criteria for making incorrect assumptions. RP is a journo. RP is subject to human nature. RP does not suggest he is somehow different nor suggest exculsively that this isnt his view. Logic therefore implies that this is a view he shares. He may not, but there is no evidence to imply this.

  • Comment number 100.

    I would like to remind Robert that many ordinary people qualify for means-tested benefits (eg tax credits) while in work. So much of the "flexibility" he admires in the private sector has actually been underwritten by a taxpayer-funded safety net - does this explain the willingness of private sector workers to go along with reduced hours or pay rates? More importantly, what difference would it make to public finance, if reduced public sector pay just implies a higher entitlement to tax credit subsidy?

 

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