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Tory £12bn public sector cuts proposal would claim IT scalps

UK tech industry takes biggest hit

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A Tory government would cut spending on public sector IT projects, office costs, contracts and hiring of new staff in an effort to hold back £12bn and swerve a rise in National Insurance contributions.

David Cameron's party finally fleshed out Conservative plans on public spending this morning.

Tory adviser Sir Peter Gershon told the Financial Times today that £9.5bn could be saved from cutting IT costs, renegotiating contracts and putting an end to relying on consultants.

Additionally, he claimed that the government could save £1bn to £2bn from keeping a lid on recruitment.

Cameron said in an interview with the BBC Radio 4 Today programme this morning that such savings were possible, and dismissed claims that 40,000 jobs could be lost under the Tory proposal.

The Labour government was quick to jump on the Conservative's plans, describing the Tory calculations as being based on "back-of-envelope" sums.

"It is do-able, it is deliverable, I don't think it's particularly challenging to ask government to save £1 out of every £100 it spends," said Cameron this morning.

However, he added that a Tory government would make changes "along the lines of" those suggested with Gershon but only after consultation with the Treasury.

"The exact balance between things like procurement, recruitment and IT should be decided calmly and reasonably with the Treasury if we are elected on 6 May," he said.

Last week shadow chancellor George Osborne announced cuts in large IT programmes would form part of a £6bn public spending squeeze under a Tory government, that would be used to cancel most of a rise in National Insurance planned for next year by Labour. ®

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