Civil service cuts must not target lower-paid, say MPs

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The Independent Online

Gordon Brown was warned by senior Labour backbenchers yesterday that the planned 84,000 civil service job cuts must not fall on the lowest-paid.

Gordon Brown was warned by senior Labour backbenchers yesterday that the planned 84,000 civil service job cuts must not fall on the lowest-paid.

They told the Chancellor that his plans to find £21.5bn of savings could hurt some of the most deprived areas of the UK.

Their warnings are the latest signs of resistance from Labour grass-roots to the plans, following the warning by trade unions of strike action if any of the redundancies were compulsory.

They were joined by the Conservatives who attacked the Government's decision to shut regional pensions centres that were opened just two years ago, with the loss of hundreds of jobs.

The Chancellor replied with details of a plan to help civil servants find new jobs and a £300m fund to help departments meet redundancy costs.

George Mudie, the MP for Leeds East, told the Chancellor when he appeared before the Commons Treasury select committee, that MPs were "putting down a marker" with the Treasury. He warned the job cuts could hit families who relied on one wage earner to "float three generations through a lifetime".

Pointing to the Treasury team which included four senior mandarins, he said cutting more highly-paid staff would reduce the burden on the lower ranks.

Mr Brown said the Government was determined to create new jobs "at the front line", pointing to the recruitment of 20,000 police support jobs in every region of the UK.

He said staff would be alerted to any posts in their area and would be offered advice and retraining, while managers would be given advice on handling relocation and redundancies.

Michael Fallon, the Conservative MP for Sevenoaks, accused Treasury of "poor planning" by closing two pension centres in York and Liverpool, with the loss of 316 jobs.

But Mr Brown said the centres had been made obsolete by the Government's £6bn IT investment programme.

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