Almost 1,000 Civil Service jobs in Northern Ireland are facing the axe in the current financial year — ahead of deeper public spending cuts.
The total represents a sizeable chunk of the current 26,000 civil servants in the province.
Across Government departments a reduction of 967 posts is envisaged, according to figures released by DUP Minister Sammy Wilson’s Department of Finance.
And just over 400 of the losses have already been obtained, since the start of the financial year in April, the new statistics reveal.
The Stormont Executive hopes most of the jobs squeeze can be achieved through redeployment, retirements and resignations.
Already vacant positions are not likely to be filled — and there will be a freeze on recruitment and promotion.
The projected job losses are the result of the final year of the three-year programme of savings announced earlier in the year by Mr Wilson, of £367m.
In jobs terms, the new coalition Conservative-Liberal Democrat Government demands for £128m in savings from Northern Ireland — of which just over £50m has been deferred until the next financial year in 2011/ 12 — have not yet impacted.
But the Executive is anticipating bigger cutbacks in the Civil Service — led by Bruce Robinson — following the forthcoming four-year comprehensive spending round in the autumn.
Mr Wilson is due to make an early statement to the Assembly when it resumes from its summer break next month.
As already revealed by the Belfast Telegraph last month, the biggest single jobs blow is to the Department for Social Development — by far the largest department in Northern Ireland, with more than 7,000 staff.
A spokesman said yesterday that the current figure is again being revised, but even the new total of 385 is up from 350 just a few weeks ago.
DSD was the second department to go public with its projections after the Department of the Environment said it also has to shed 350 employees, involving almost 40% of the current Planning Service.
The next largest reduction is to the Department for Regional Development, where 160 jobs are under threat, with a further 68 in the Department of Health and Social Services.
In contrast, the Department of Employment and Learning calculates it needs an additional 42 posts filled by the end of the |financial year in March, while Mr Wilson’s own department requires five additional posts. Brian Campfield, general secretary of the largest Civil Service union, the Northern Ireland Public Service Alliance (NIPSA) said: “These are fairly accurate estimates and we are being told it can be dealt with by natural wastage, not filling vacancies and no promotion.
“It is not a case of grinning and bearing it — we are advising members not to fill in for work created by vacancies — but the real pressures are going to come |in the next four years after the next comprehensive spending review.”
Of the job losses already achieved, DSD has taken the |hardest hit, with 212, followed by the Department for Regional Development, with 121 planned cuts.