Headlines: January 17th, 2006

Growth in public sector jobs and pay is set to slow down and discontent is likely to rise as job cuts and pay curbs begin to bite. The latest figures from the Office for National Statistics show a slowdown in job growth from 1.7% in 2004 to 1.3% in 2005. This compares with a 1.1 per cent growth in private sector jobs.There were 72,000 more jobs in the public sector in the twelve months to the third quarter 2005, compared to an increase of 115,000 in the previous year. Public sector employment now stands at 5.8 million. The largest increases in 2005 were in health and social work and education, up by 45,000 and 25,000 respectively. The number of civil servants fell by 3000 and this is be the first substantive sign of the impact of the Gershon efficiency drive on staffing levels in the Civil Service.

John Philpott , Chief Economist at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development said: “2006 will be the toughest year for public sector workers since Gordon Brown began to boost government spending at the start of the decade. Managers are having to tread a fine line between meeting efficiency targets and maintaining employee motivation and commitment. Achieving this balance is a highly skilled task and crucial to raising performance in the public services. As a result it is important that the vital contribution of public sector managers is not downplayed in crude political debate over public sector jobs, which often unfairly caricatures public sector managers as ‘unproductive bureaucrats'”.