Substantial job cuts are inevitable as the Ministry of Justice slashes its £9 billion budget by £2 billion from October, staff were told today.
Ann Beasley, the director general of finance for the Ministry, told senior staff efficiencies alone would not be enough to make the cuts that are needed.
"There will have to be less of us as we cannot streamline the organisation to work effectively and efficiently without considering staff numbers," she said.
Details of the cuts were exposed in a letter leaked to the Public and Commercial Services Union.
In the letter, Ms Beasley said the department was in negotiations with the Treasury and further details could not be revealed yet.
But she added: "I can, however, tell you that the scale of the savings we will have to make are extremely challenging and, given our current budget of around £9 billion, are expected to be around £2 billion.
"The level of savings we expect to have to make from our headquarters and administrative areas alone is around £450 million - around one-third of our current administrative costs. This is in line with the one-third savings required by Government.
"Many savings will have to be made quickly within the first 12-24 months.
"Efficiencies alone will not be enough.
"It will mean we have to look at every opportunity to work differently and better.
"It will also mean there will have to be less of us.
"Over £4 billion of the department's current budget is spent on staff costs and we cannot streamline the organisation to work effectively and efficiently without considering staff numbers."
The PCS union said the cuts were "equivalent to the entire budget for prisons, or the money the department spends each year on courts and tribunals".
The union said it feared about 15,000 of the 80,000 staff at the Ministry of Justice could be at risk of losing their jobs.
"Cuts on this scale cannot be delivered without closing prisons and bringing courts to a standstill," the union said.
PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: "This is the first indication of the true scale of the cuts being imposed upon departments by this coalition Government, and it paints a devastating picture.
"It is clear that the civil service will simply not be able to cope. We will take every opportunity to remind the Government and the public that there is an alternative and these politically-motivated cuts are entirely avoidable."
In her letter to senior civil servants within the Ministry of Justice, Ms Beasley added: "Staff will be understandably concerned.
"Now, more than ever, it is important that you take every opportunity to talk to them, listen to their concerns, invite their ideas and views and be honest about what we do and don't know and when we will tell them more."
Details of the cuts, which form part of the Spending Review 2010, will be agreed and announced on October 20.
This will be followed by a departmental business plan that "will explain to the public how, over the next four years, we will use the money that has been allocated to us", Ms Beasley wrote.Reuse content