Around 12.5 per cent of public sector workers are likely to lose their jobs in the coming year, according to a study by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD).

The study found that 75 per cent of councils were preparing for cuts as were 50 per cent of central government employers and more than 30 per cent relating to the NHS.

The CIPD’s policy advisor Gerwyn Davies said the next few months would be a “quarter of reckoning”.

On the positive side, the CIPD reported data from the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) that showed recruitment overall had bounced back in January and demand for staff had grown at its fastest pace since last summer. The ‘Report on Jobs’ showed “a clear recovery” from December.

REC chief executive Kevin Green said: “Employer confidence, which up until now has been fragile, is finally starting to harden. This is promising news but there is still a job to be done to ensure that all of society benefits from this renewed optimism.”

Describing the figures as encouraging, Bernard Brown, partner and head of business services at KPMG, commented: “Employers across all sectors have been expanding their workforce in January, with no real pressure building on wage inflation. Importantly, there was a real bounce from the previous month’s figures for blue collar, engineering and IT-related jobs. However, it is too early to speculate whether these are the signs of a private sector-led recovery. With looming public-sector job cuts, the VAT rise and slowing economic growth, the UK jobs market is likely to remain volatile over the coming months.”