How the ‘public sector exit cap’ could hit those who serve their communities

Job losses are the unfortunate reality for too many public sector workers at the moment. Faced with a government determined to make the public sector pay for the costs of a banking crisis, the relentless barrage of cuts has seen a spike in redundancies.

No-one wants to see vital public sector workers out of work, but if redundancies take place, they should do so in a fair and transparent manner.

Yet the way the government has handled this process has been anything but. With their planned ‘public sector exit cap’, ministers might claim their intention is to hit ‘the best paid public sector workers’, but that’s simply not the case. They’re proposing a single, non-negotiable cap on redundancy regardless of how much someone is paid or how long they’ve worked somewhere for.

And that means public sector workers earning as little as £25,000 could be hit, and those on low to moderate salaries like midwives, nurses, librarians and social workers will be affected too.

Not for the first time, this government’s ill-thought through plans are going to hurt those we all rely on to take care of us and keep us safe.

A sensible plan for restructuring at a time when budgets are being slashed would be to avoid unnecessary job losses and work out how to maintain valuable skills in the public sector, rather than tying the hands of employers who now face even greater restrictions on how they can respond to unprecedented cuts.

Yet now the government is launching a further – even more severe – attack on redundancies. Public sector workers face a cap on all aspects of redundancy pay, a sharp reduction in the level of support available to those who have served the public for many years and possibly – even banning early retirement altogether.

Hard-earned rights are being eroded, risking a situation where skilled public servants are made redundant with their roles abolished, and where the redundancy pay that they’re entitled to has been slashed.

The cost of redundancies isn’t a big problem for the taxpayer, but it is an inevitable impact of the swathe of job losses being inflicted on the public sector. This government is trying to have its cuts whilst avoiding the consequences. The very least that ministers should be willing to do is pay those they’re booting out of work the redundancy money they’re owed, rather than changing the rules to hit people who have given their communities and our country decades of service.