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Local Government (Employment)

Volume 526: debated on Monday 4 April 2011

14. What assessment he has made of the likely effects of reductions in Government funding on the number of people employed by local authorities in 2011-12. (50353)

The Department makes no such centralised estimates for the good reason that it is for individual councils to make their own decisions about how their local work forces are organised and managed to ensure the efficient delivery of services for local taxpayers.

The Tory-led Local Government Association has made the estimate, however, that 140,000 jobs will go as a result of these policies. PricewaterhouseCoopers has said that for every job lost in the public sector, one will go in the private sector. That makes almost 300,000 jobs. How on earth can that help the recovery?

That is because the Government are committed to reducing the deficit to enable a proper and sustainable private sector-led recovery. That is no doubt why the Office for Budget Responsibility has demonstrated that there will be an increase in private sector jobs of 1.3 million over the same period. That is nearly four times the figure quoted by the hon. Gentleman.

Is it not the case that if councils used their reserves more effectively, unlike Manchester city council, and did not keep sending officers out of the door at half a million a pop, like Nottingham city council, so many jobs would not have to be lost?

My hon. Friend is quite right. The Government have made it abundantly clear that significant sums are held by local authorities in reserves, much of which is not allocated. Sensible use of those funds at a time of financial crisis would enable councils to protect their front-line services.