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Thursday, November 30, 2006

Joined up Government

The projected loss of nearly a 1,000 Welsh jobs from Revenue and Customs over the next five years is a particular blow. These cuts have nothing to do with providing a better service to Welsh people and everything to do with arbitrary targets set by the Chancellor. Jobs will be lost across the region I represent, with 120 going in Bridgend alone. This type of crude ‘efficiency saving’ makes no sense, especially in parts of Wales which already have low levels of employment, and we will see a worsening of the service provided to people claiming tax credits and to the small business sector.

This announcement also contrasts sharply with assurances given by the First Minister at the Wales TUC Conference last May when he told delegates that there would be a "net increase" in the number of civil servants employed in Wales. It seems that the Labour Government has no regard to the devastating impact that these job cuts will have on deprived Objective One areas. HMRC’s decision will undermine the efforts of the Assembly Government to regenerate the local economy and yet the First Minister is apparently watching passively whilst in a condition of self-denial.

It is little wonder therefore that Ministers who know Wales best in Government are getting twitchy about the plans. According to the Western Mail, Junior Wales Office Minister Nick Ainger told MPs yesterday, "I have already written [to the Treasury] on behalf of this department expressing concern about the number of jobs included and where they are included. Obviously there will be ongoing discussions on that." Wales would benefit from a more streamlined bureaucracy, Mr Ainger said, but added, "The problem is where these jobs are being taken from."

Nice to see that we joined-up Government is as healthy as ever!
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