August 10, 2010: Justice Job Cuts
According to the public sector union PCS (The Public and Commercial Services Union), the Ministry of Justice is planning for job cuts on a large scale as the first indication of the savings demanded by the coalition government is revealed.
An announcement made to staff today indicates that around that around £2 billion of the Ministry of Justice’s £9 billion budget will be axed.
The PCS notes that this is equivalent to the entire budget for prisons, or the money the department spends each year on courts and tribunals.
Cuts on this scale cannot be delivered without closing prisons and bringing courts to a standstill. The union also fears that about 15,000 of the MoJ’s 80,000 staff could be at risk of losing their jobs. Staff have been told that many savings will have to be made within the first two years of the next spending review period, which will be announced on 20 October.
The union believes that the government should be creating jobs, not cutting them, to help the economy to grow as the recovery from recession remains fragile. The department should also focus on alternative ways to deliver justice, rather than simply adding to the growing prison population.
Many services, including the collection of fines by the courts, are already under severe strain and the union fears these cuts will leave the department unable to function.
The PCS has previously said that 25% cuts in the Crown Prosecution Service, which would mean around 1,800 job losses, would make it virtually impossible for the staff that remain to adequately deal with workloads and prosecute cases effectively.
PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka stated:
“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.”
Commenting on the news that the Ministry of Justice budget will be cut from £9 billion to £7 billion over the next three years, Harry Fletcher, Assistant General Secretary of probation union Napo said:
“These cuts will lead to huge reductions in staff. As a consequence individuals on probation will no longer be supervised properly. There is therefore highly likely to be a huge rise in the prison population, with the use of court and police cells as overspill.
"This will adversely affect the ability of the courts and the police to function properly and will lead to a crisis of public confidence. It is difficult to see how the current levels of public protection can be maintained and cuts to probation supervision are certain to lead to an increase in reoffending. The criminal justice system will be unable therefore to fulfil its statutory duties”.