Gordon Brown renewed his attack on the Tories’ plans to slash public spending if they win the next general election at the GMB union congress in Blackpool this week.
Tory shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley told the BBC that a Conservative government would cut spending on areas other than the NHS and schools by 10 percent between 2011 and 2015.
The shadow chancellor George Osborne has admitted that “real spending will have to be cut, whoever is elected”.
“The bills of rising unemployment and the huge interest costs of a soaring national debt means that many government departments will face cuts in their budgets,” he wrote in the Times.
But despite Brown’s righteous outrage at the Tories’ proposals, his government is preparing cuts that are almost as severe.
Chancellor Alistair Darling set out £15 billion worth of spending cuts in the budget in April, on top of £10 billion cuts already announced.
This will have a massive impact on jobs and hit the public services that ordinary people rely on to help pay for the billions handed out to the bankers and the growing costs of the recession.
Public sector workers will face a wave of attacks over jobs, pay and pensions in the coming years, according to John Philpott, the chief economist of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD).
He believes that up to 350,000 jobs could be lost in the public sector between 2010 and 2015 as a result of government cuts in spending.
Philpott says that the recession will cause a “bloodbath in the public finances”, meaning bosses will cut back on workers.
He says the 2010-15 cuts will be “preceded by around 30,000 job cuts in local authorities in the next year”.
He warns that this could lead to “guerrilla war” in workplaces, with major strike action by unions defending their members.
Philpott said the cuts would “inevitably have an impact on levels of public service provision”.
The “impending age of austerity” will mean that “the greater job security and relative generous pay and pensions packages enjoyed by public sector workers will soon be a thing of the past”.
A report by the NHS Confederation last week revealed that the health service in England is facing a real-terms budget reduction of between £8 billion and £10 billion over the three years following 2011.
It is clear that, whoever wins the next election, workers and unions must be prepared for battles to defend our services.