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15,000 jobs at risk in Justice cuts

About 15,000 jobs are at risk as the Ministry of Justice slashes £2 billion from its £9 billion budget, a union has warned.

Staff at the Ministry of Justice, one of the largest Government departments, were told substantial job cuts are inevitable and efficiencies alone will not be enough as it cuts its budget by £2 billion from October.

Mark Serwotka, general secretary of the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union, said: "This is the first indication of the true scale of the cuts being imposed upon departments by this coalition Government, and it paints a devastating picture."

Warning of prison closures and courts being brought to a standstill, he said it was clear the civil service "will simply not be able to cope".

The union said the jobs of about 15,000 of the 80,000 staff at the Ministry could be at risk.

Details of the cuts, described by the union as "equivalent to the entire budget for prisons, or the money the department spends each year on courts and tribunals", were exposed in a letter sent to Ministry of Justice (MoJ) staff and forwarded to the PCS union by the department.

In the letter to senior civil servants, Ann Beasley, the department's director general of finance, said: "There will have to be less of us as we cannot streamline the organisation to work effectively and efficiently without considering staff numbers.

"The scale of the savings we will have to make are extremely challenging and, given our current budget of around £9 billion, are expected to be around £2 billion," she said.

"The level of savings we expect to have to make from our headquarters and administrative areas alone is around £450 million - around one-third of our current administrative costs. This is in line with the one-third savings required by Government.

"Many savings will have to be made quickly within the first 12-24 months."

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