Pain of public sector job cuts widespread

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Scotland and northern England have seen some of the largest falls in public sector employment since it peaked in 2009, data from the Office for National Statistics have revealed.

However, while northern regions have on the whole suffered more it is not a simple north-south divide. The biggest drop of any UK region was in southwest England, which fell 11 per cent.

The average decline was just less than 7 per cent, but Scotland and northeast England (down 10 per cent), northwest England (9 per cent) and Yorkshire and the Humber (8 per cent) have all seen above-average falls.

No region has been immune from the impact of spending cuts. The east midlands had the smallest decline in public sector jobs, at 6 per cent, followed by Northern Ireland at 6.5 per cent.

It was widely expected that regions with the biggest share of public sector employees would suffer the heaviest losses, but in percentage terms the pain has been more widely spread than many expected.

Northern Ireland has the highest share of public sector employees in its workforce, at 27.7 per cent, followed by Wales at 25.7 per cent and Scotland at 23.5 per cent. The Barnett formula, which governs the public spending share-out for those nations, may have helped to protect them from heavier cuts.

Although northeast England suffered one of the biggest drops in public sector jobs, it also had the fastest rise in private sector employment, up 5 per cent since March 2008.

The only regions to show a drop in private sector jobs over that period were Wales (down 3 per cent) and Scotland (2 per cent).

The public sector jobs data show the decline from its peak level in each region. The figures exclude the effect of the ONS’s reclassification of further education and sixth form colleges in England from the public to the private sector last April.

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