Simon Hughes questions public sector layoffsLiberal Democrat deputy leader Simon Hughes has expressed concern at the number of public sector workers facing the sack over the coming months and questioned the wisdom of the government's approach.

Speaking in a parliamentary debate yesterday (November 25th 2010), the Bermondsey and Old Southwark MP suggested that the £200 million set aside to help councils cope with the layoffs may be insufficient to maintain public services.

"I gather also that local authority chief executives and treasurers suggest that the cost might be between £1.5 billion and £3 billion," he told junior communities minister Bob Neill, asking whether the coalition is willing to support local authorities.

Mr Neill responded by stating that councils should have prepared for spending cuts well in advance, but former Labour cabinet minister David Blunkett claimed government ministers "haven't got the first idea" about the true impact.

Earlier this month, employment secretary Chris Grayling insisted that Britain's private sector is continuing to generate new jobs and will drive the nation out of its post-recession slump.

Posted by Hayley Edwards