500,000 public sector jobs to go: Danny Alexander lets the cat out of the bag on spending cuts

In Media Dailies on November 27, 2010 at 1:20 pm
  • David Cameron and Danny Alexander snapped with secret drafts
  • 1 in 10 public sector jobs to go as government gambles on private recovery
  • Speculation mounts of deliberate ‘leaks’ by government ministers

The coalition expects 500,000 public sector jobs to be lost as a result of the drastic spending cuts, it was revealed today.

Danny Alexander let slip the forecast when he was spotted driving into the Treasury with an open copy of the Comprehensive Spending Review on his lap.

The Chief Secretary to the Treasury – who has been nicknamed Beaker after the Muppets character – was reading the document, which was caught on camera by waiting photographers.

Danny Alexander with the Comprehensive Spending Review Some light reading: Danny Alexander with the Comprehensive Spending Review arriving at the Treasury today

CSR Drastic action: The CSR sets out cuts across Whitehall as the coalition battles to save money

It laid out details about the likely effect of spending cuts on the public sector as well as the coalition’s plans to pour billions into tackling climate change.

At the same time, the Prime Minister was photographed today holding a draft of the Strategic Defence and Security Review.



  • The overall value of the public sector reward package … has remained generous in recent years
  • Action on pay will help to reduce job losses
  • Actions Govt is taking will facilitate a movement of jobs from the public sector to the private sector
  • In the second quarter of 2010, both private sector and total employment experienced their largest increases on record
  • However, the OBR’s Budget forecast was for a reduction in public sector workforce numbers of 490,000 by 2014-2015
  • It will be for each public sector employer to determine the workforce implications of spending settlements in their areas

While figures in Mr Cameron’s documents appeared to show the defence budget was to be cut by 6 per cent, the Prime Minister confirmed to the Commons this afternoon that the department’s cuts will be 8 per cent.

The fact that both were photographed on the same day has sparked speculation that the papers were deliberately ‘leaked’ to soften the blow ahead of the official announcements.

Mr Alexander’s copy of The Comprehensive Spending Review laid out details about the likely effect of spending cuts on the public sector as well as the coalition’s plans to pour billions into tackling climate change.

The document stresses that tackling the deficit now is ‘unavoidable’ and will ultimately benefit the public and private sectors.

It warns it will ‘inevitably impact’ on workers because the paybill in Whitehall accounts for such a huge proportion of departmental spending.

Action on pay – a freeze for the lowest paid is already in place – will help reduce job losses, the papers say.

But they make clear that the Government has adopted the Office for Budget Responsibility‘s forecast that 490,000 jobs in the public sector will go by 2014/15.

Each public sector employer will have to ‘determine the workforce implications of spending settlements’, the document says.

It adds: ‘Government will do everything they can to mitigate the impact of redundancies’.

This will be done by creating conditions for private sector growth, encouraging pay restraint and reduced hours and supporting employees facing redundancy.


The Office for Budget Responsibility was formed in May 2010 to independently assess the state of public finances and issue economic forecasts.

It was originally chaired by fiscal expert Sir Alan Budd – but he quit in July, with Labour peers suggesting he had fallen out with ministers over the degree of independence given to the OBR.

On climate change, which was on the opposite page of the document held by Mr Alexander, the coalition pledges to ‘lead efforts to secure ambitious global action’.

It pledges that the UK will contribute £2.9billion in international climate finance and sets out plans to focus on developing wind power to help reach environmental goals.

Mr Alexander, 38, is the latest minister to be caught out by photographers carrying documents in Whitehall.

He was promoted from Scotland Secretary to the Treasury within weeks of the coalition taking power after fellow Lib Dem David Laws was forced to quit by revelations about his expenses claims.

Just five years ago, he was a press officer for the Cairngorms National Park but he was a key figure in the negotiations with the Tories after the election.

Mr Alexander has no experience of finance and has been compared to Beaker, the Muppet Show’s hapless laboratory assistant.

David Cameron was also spotted with a copy of his statement about the defence review today, which showed the MoD faces cuts of 8 per cent.

David Cameron leaving No10 today with a copy of his speech on defence cuts Revealing: David Cameron leaving No10 today with a copy of his speech on defence cuts appearing to show the budget could be slashed by 6% – but Mr Cameron later confirmed cuts of 8%


Danny Alexander is far from the first public figure to let slip information by being less than careful as they carry documents around Whitehall.

Housing Minister Caroline Flint (below left) revealed forecasts of a 10 per cent plunge in property prices in Downing Street in May 2008.

In 2009, Met Assistant Commissioner Bob Quick (below right) had to quit after displaying secret notes that led to a suspected Al-Qaeda operation being brought forward.

Caroline Flint
Bob Quick

Blunders: Caroline Flint showing off notes in Downing Street and (right) counter-terror officer Bob Quick

Reprinted from The Daily Mail


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