Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Osborne Shows Way by Firing 350 Treasury Staff

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Osborne Shows Way by Firing 350 Treasury Staff

Article excerpt

Byline: Joe Murphy Political Editor

CHANCELLOR George Osborne swung the axe at 350 staff in his Treasury fiefdom today as ministers began the brutal task of completing the public spending round.

Mr Osborne made a point of "leading by example" when he convened the first formal meetings of a "star chamber" of senior ministers who will intervene on disputes over the severity of cuts.

He aims to chop a quarter of the Treasury workforce, reducing staff from about 1,350 to 1,000 in three years by natural wastage rather than redundancies. At the same time, Mr Osborne wants to reverse what he regarded as "empire building" under Gordon Brown that extended the Treasury's activities into other Whitehall departments.

Mr Osborne is even asking his staff to sit at smaller desks so more people can be squeezed into his HQ, saving rents.

The Chancellor's willingness to lock in spending reductions in his own building is designed to strengthen his hand in negotiations with other government departments, which reach the final formal stages this week.

Mr Osborne's star chamber will sit in judgment on ministers who claim they cannot find cuts without causing excessive damage to services or to the Government's political fortunes. Its core membership will be Mr Osborne, Treasury Chief Secretary Danny Alexander, Foreign Secretary William Hague, policy chief Oliver Letwin and delivery minister Francis Maude.

But the Chancellor will let those who reach quick settlements join the committee.

Among those eager to help make decisions is said to be former chancellor Kenneth Clarke. Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman and Jeremy Hunt, the Culture Secretary, are also said to be close to settlements. Mr Hunt has offered to quit his headquarters in Trafalgar Square and move to cheaper offices.

Defence Secretary Liam Fox is expected to announce this autumn that Britain and France will share a new aircraft carrier to save money. …

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