UK – The UK government’s Department of Work and Pensions is to cut its staff by 30,000 and its administration budget by three percent a year - the unions said they couldn’t rule out industrial action.

“By 2007-08 DWP will reduce its workforce by 30,000 and its administration budget in real terms by three percent per cent per year,” the department said following the government’s spending review.

The budget will fall to 8.1 billion pounds (12.2 billion euros) compared with 8.2 billion in the current fiscal year.

“The savings will fund reform in key service areas including helping people on incapacity benefit into employment and assisting future pensioners plan for retirement and take advantage of savings opportunities.”

Pensions minister Andrew Smith said the cuts were “a very challenging but deliverable settlement” for the DWP.

“Major improvements in efficiency will release resources for front-line services allowing us to make further progress on full employment as well as continuing to tackle child and pensioner poverty,” he said.

Key DWP services will be improved through the reallocation of at least half of these savings to the frontline. Chancellor Gordon Brown said 4,000 DWP staff would be moved from the Southeast of England.

The moves are part of Brown’s plan to cut more than 100,000 civil service jobs.

"We cannot rule out industrial action in the face of such a serious attack," said Mark Serwotka, head of the Public and Commercial Services Union, which represents civil servants.

"The government seem more content on cutting numbers, rather than focussing on public services.”