Wales

'Women to be hit hardest by jobs cuts' - Peter Hain

Peter Hain
Image caption Peter Hain said the Newport passport office cutback was 'shameful'

Women will be hit hardest when tens of thousands of public sector jobs go in Wales, Labour said.

Shadow Welsh secretary Peter Hain said it was "astonishing" that the coalition did not know how many women would lose their jobs as they make up 75% of Wales' public sector workforce.

Welsh Secretary Cheryl Gillan told the Commons any losses were "regretted".

She added that the forecast for Wales had improved, with a reduction in losses predicted.

'Shamefully'

In heated exchanges during Welsh questions in the Commons, Mr Hain attacked the Welsh Secretary, saying: "As the first woman secretary of state for Wales, are you proud of the government's attitude to Welsh women?"

Mr Hain said that, as part of the cuts, the Newport Passport Office was being "shamefully" closed.

He said: "Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) estimates show that the actions of your government will result in tens of thousands of public sector jobs losses in Wales. How many will be women?"

Mrs Gillan replied: "We are certainly not complacent and we feel that any job losses are to be regretted.

"What we were pleased to see was the OBR originally forecast a reduction to the public sector headcount of 490,000 and in last week's forecast this estimate has come down to 330,000.

"I am sure you will want to welcome that reduction of 160,000."

She added that the government's plans to help small companies introduce flexible working conditions and these will make it easier for women to work part time.

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