British Prime Minister David Cameron and his deputy Nick Clegg wrote to six million public sector workers on Thursday asking for ideas on how to save money and tackle a record peace-time deficit.
Chancellor George Osborne called in his budget this week for a 25 per cent spending cut in all government departments except health and international development to neutralise a deficit of around 11 per cent of gross domestic product by 2015.
The letter to all Britain’s state employees from the leaders of the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition is an attempt to win support for the toughest round of spending cuts in decades.
Lib Dem leader Clegg warned ahead of the May election that brought the coalition to power that failure to achieve public acceptance for the cutbacks could result in “Greek-style social and industrial strife”.
“We want you to help us find those savings, so we can cut public spending in a way that is fair and responsible,” the two said.
“You work on the front line of public services. You know where things are working well, where the waste is, and where we can re-think things so that we get better services for less.”
Unison, Britain’s biggest public sector union, said its members would cooperate in helping to cut waste but warned vital services would still be hit.
“The prime minister is misleading the country by claiming that you can shave a massive 25 per cent off budgets just by cutting “waste” ... there is very little fat left to cut,” said Unison General Secretary Dave Prentis.
“I would urge the government to revisit these impossible cuts and consider what devastation they will cause to our society and our local communities.”