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'Quarter' of Treasury jobs face axe

Staff numbers at the Treasury could be cut by around a quarter under plans by Chancellor George Osborne to scale back the department's role as part of the Government's drive to save money, it has been reported.

The Financial Times said Mr Osborne aimed to cut jobs at the Treasury from 1,350 to 1,000 by a process of "natural attrition" over the next four years.

The paper said the Chancellor would seek to lead the way as he reconvened the public spending "star chamber" which is looking at departmental budgets across Whitehall.

Mr Osborne is understood to want to draw a line under the "empire-building" of Gordon Brown's period as Chancellor by focusing the Treasury more tightly on its core responsibilities.

Under Mr Brown, the Treasury extended its interests throughout Whitehall, taking policy initiatives in areas ranging from health to international development.

An unnamed colleague of Mr Osborne told the FT: "We are going to focus on our core responsibilities as an economics and finance ministry. That means a focus on spending control and macro analysis. We will not always be trying to second-guess what other departments do."

Mr Osborne was also reported to be planning to shrink the Treasury's financial services function, on the grounds that the crisis management phase of the banking meltdown is now over.

The FT said that Mr Osborne - who has asked most Cabinet ministers to identify spending cuts of between 25% and 40% in their departments - wants to wrap up settlements in some ministries within weeks.

Budgets for departments including justice, transport, environment and culture could be agreed by mid-September, said the paper. This would free Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke, a former chancellor, and Transport Secretary Philip Hammond, formerly shadow Treasury chief secretary, to join the "star chamber" sitting in judgment on other ministers' spending plans.

A Treasury spokesman declined to comment on the FT report.


From Belfast Telegraph