Protection for frontline services in the drive to cut deficit

SO CHRISTMAS is over for another year.

I hope readers had a wonderful day and plans weren’t disrupted too much by the dodgy weather.

At this time of year it’s only natural to look back over the last 12 months and to wonder what 2011 will bring us.

Featuring highly in my thoughts is May’s general election when I was proud to be re-elected to Parliament by the people of Horsham.

The wider election result was historic in that is led to the formation of the Conservative/Liberal Democrat Coalition Government.

My new role as Minister for the Cabinet Office has meant that I’ve played a central role in the Government’s main task – tackling our disastrous budget deficit.

One group of people that have dominated my thoughts and the coalition’s approach, has been public sector workers and it’s undoubtedly true that 2010 has been an unsettling year for many.

In a nutshell, the country has an unsustainable budget deficit, for which public sector workers are in no way to blame.

The deficit was created by mismanagement of the public finances by politicians.

To address it, however, we’re having to reduce public spending.

We’re doing all we can in the first instance to protect public sector jobs and frontline public services by focusing on cutting government’s overhead costs.

Christmas reminds us that every single job lost impacts upon the lives of individuals and their families and we have an absolute obligation to minimise public sector redundancies.

In fact, not tackling the deficit would be the worst thing for jobs in the medium term – across both the public and private sectors.

Our actions on public pay and pensions have also been designed to protect public sector jobs and they’ve been implemented alongside a wide-ranging and in-depth process of cutting the costs of government overheads.

An intended result of our changes is to make public service jobs more fulfilling – by slashing the number of top-down targets, we’re giving freedom back to public sector staff, making them accountable to the people they serve.

We’re also encouraging public sector workers to form new organisation such as mutuals, co-operatives and social enterprises.

Already, several groups of public servants across the country have seized the opportunity to take over the services they deliver.

So, there’s a lot to be done and I’ll keep readers updated throughout 2011.

I’d like to end by wishing everyone a very happy New Year!

FRANCIS MAUDE

MP for Horsham