Alarm over drop in frontline Scottish public sector jobs

The number of people employed in the police has fallen. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
The number of people employed in the police has fallen. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
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The number of people employed in the police and fire services has fallen over the last year, public sector employment figures have revealed.

Those employed in further education colleges and local government has also decreased, according to data released by the Scottish Government.

Employment levels in the Scottish public secotr. picture: TSPL

Employment levels in the Scottish public secotr. picture: TSPL

The fall in those employed in the emergency services was accompanied by a rise in those employed in the NHS, public corporations and the civil service.

Opposition politicians expressed concern at the falling numbers of people employed in the front line services at a time when the number of white collar jobs were rising. According to the figures, in the second quarter of this year there were 543,600 people employed in the public sector in Scotland, a decrease of 1,190 (-0.2 per cent) since quarter two last year.

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Over the same period, police and fire related services decreased by 380 (-1.4 per cent). Further education colleges fell by 190 (-1.3 per cent) and local government fell by 1,020 (-0.4 per cent)

Employment, however increased in the NHS by 860 (0.5 per cent), public corporations 360 (4.7 per cent) and civil service by 210 (1.3 per cent).

Scottish Conservative shadow finance secretary Murdo Fraser said: “People will raise eyebrows at an increase in desk jobs for civil servants while valued public services suffer cuts. Since the merger of Police Scotland, even when staffing numbers were steady, we saw more frontline officers backfilling in administration roles. Now the headcount is dropping, the SNP government must provide assurances that the frontline will not suffer as a consequence.”

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The extent of the fall in people employed in local government alarmed Labour’s economy spokeswoman Jackie Baillie.

She said: “These figures show more than 1,500 fewer employees across local government, our police force, fire service and Scotland’s colleges.

“This is the result of an SNP government not interested in using the powers of the Parliament to stop Tory austerity in Scotland and cutting £1.5 billion from local government budgets since 2011.”

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “We have increased the number of staff employed in frontline services in the NHS, recruited over 100 new firefighters in the last year and police office numbers remain well above what was inherited in 2007.”