Letwin wants public sector workers to feel 'fear'

Feeling the fear? Letwin wants discipline to increase productivity.
Feeling the fear? Letwin wants discipline to increase productivity.

By Ian Dunt

Public sector workers should be afraid of losing their jobs because it will make them more productive, Oliver Letwin has said.

The coalition's policy minister was reported to have made the comments during a meeting with a leading consultancy firm.

"You can't have room for innovation and the pressure for excellence without having some real discipline and some fear on the part of the providers that things may go wrong if they don't live up to the aims that society as a whole is demanding of them," he was quoted as saying by the Observer.


"If you have diversity of provision and personal choice and power, some providers will be better and some worse. Inevitably, some will not, whether it's because they can't attract the patient or the pupil, for example, or because they can't get results and hence can't get paid.

"Some will not survive. It is an inevitable and intended consequence of what we are talking about."

The comments angered union leaders, who are trying to combat a deficit reduction plan which will see somewhere around 450,000 public sector workers made redundant.

"Public sector workers are already working in fear – fear of cuts to their job, pension, living standards and of privatisation," Mark Serwotka, general secretary of the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union said.

"Far from improving productivity, the cuts are creating chaos in vital public services."

Mr Letwin is one of the key figures behind the government's public sector reforms, although many observers believe the Liberal Democrats succeeded in watering down his plans considerably.

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