2400 more state sector jobs could go

ANDREA VANCE
Last updated 05:00 08/03/2012

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A further 2400 public service jobs could be slashed as the Treasury looks to deepen spending cuts.

A Treasury report suggests that the Government should be looking to make public sector savings of $250 million a year, but says spending in the past two years has been cut by only $20m. The Treasury itself saved only $338,000.

The report says "backroom" jobs – which are not defined, but could include human resources, IT and finance services – should be slashed by 20 per cent.

More than 2500 public sector jobs have gone since National took office in 2008.

Deputy chief executive Andrew Kibblewhite said Treasury saved only $338,000 between 2009 and 2011.

By sharing corporate services, Treasury, the State Services Commission and Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet (DPMC) could expect a 15 per cent spending reduction in the next three years.

They also hope to reduce their total "headcount" by 20 per cent. This would be a cut of 17 fulltime jobs.

Asked if this could be applied across the whole public sector, Mr Kibblewhite said: "I would expect if shared service type functions are happening in other agencies then you would get something of a comparable magnitude. But it would depend on the specifics that each agency is dealing with."

The Government and the State Services Commission have not defined which jobs are "backroom" roles. The three central agencies share human resources, information technology and finance services.

Figures from June show 11,966 people employed as information, legal, HR and finance professionals, IT, clerical and administrative workers. Shaving 20 per cent from that total would see 2393 jobs go.

The Treasury report scrutinised administrative and support services over 31 agencies. Mr Kibblewhite said the savings target of $250m by 2013 was not unrealistic.

Public Service Association national secretary Richard Wagstaff said it was "overly ambitious" and further cuts would see departments struggle to function.

Labour's state services spokesman, Chris Hipkins, said Treasury staff numbers had increased by 13 per cent in the last three years. DPMC boosted its staff by 6 per cent. "There's a bit of a double standard applying."

Finance Minister Bill English said the report covered the "early stages" of the Government's cost cutting exercise.

Meanwhile, police deputy commissioner Viv Rickard confirmed yesterday that the force may have to find $477m to cover a 3 per cent wage and inflation hike.

The costs will be met out of its existing budget as the Government has made it clear there will be no new money in May's allocations.

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More than 2500 public service jobs have gone since National took office in late 2008.

- The Dominion Post

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