Cameron claims public sector has ‘been insulated’ from downturn

7 Jun 10
Public sector workers have been ‘insulated from the harsh realities of the recession’, the prime minister said today
By Vivienne Russell

7 June 2010

Public sector workers have been ‘insulated from the harsh realities of the recession’, the prime minister said today.

In a speech at the Open University in Milton Keynes, David Cameron set out the scale of the deficit and the consequences of not tackling it sooner. ‘The overall scale of the problem is even worse than we thought,’ he warned.

He said that while private sector employment fell by 3.7% since 2007, public sector employment rose. ‘So it really has been a tale of two economies. A public sector boom – and a private sector bust.

‘While people employed by the taxpayer were insulated from the harsh realities of the recession, everyone else in the economy was paying the price.

‘And now we’re all paying the price because the size of the public sector has got way out of step with the size of the private sector.’

Bringing the public sector back in line would be ‘much more painful than if we had kept things properly in balance all along’, Cameron added.

Failure to act decisively and cut the deficit quickly could erode confidence in the economy, driving up interest rates and reducing investment.

‘Britain’s economy would begin an inevitable slide into decline,’ the prime minister claimed.

He added that the Office for Budget Responsibility, which will shortly set out independent growth and borrowing forecasts, would prevent the country from ‘sleepwalking’ into another debt crisis.

Unison general secretary Dave Prentis condemned Cameron’s speech as a ‘chilling attack’ on the public sector.

‘With breathtaking gall, David Cameron is spinning a myth about a hard-done-by private sector. The Tories and their friends in big business seem to forget the tens of billions of pounds of profit made by the private sector out of public sector contracts,’ he said.

‘And Cameron is trying to fool the public into believing that cutting public spending, quickly and deeply, has nothing to do with political priorities or decisions. I don’t think people will be fooled.’

Prentis added that public sector job losses would hurt local economies.

‘For every £1 a public sector worker earns, nearly 70p is spent in local shops, cafes, hairdressers and businesses,’ he said.

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