ONE of the biggest private employers in Blackburn and Darwen could be hit by savage public sector cuts, its boss has admitted.

Capita Symonds business director John Slee said he expected the services firm, which employs 1,000 in the two towns, to ‘suffer’ as Government departments and councils are forced to slash their budgets by attempting to reduce outsourcing costs.

It comes as national reports suggest Whitehall has ordered bosses to screw down contracts with services firms like Capita.

It has even been suggested that providers may be asked to accept reduced terms in exchange for longer deals.

Mr Slee said: “Yes, we will suffer as public expenditure reduces because there will be less work but we are also seeing councils looking to outsource more in a bid to achieve efficiencies.

“I would hope we won’t see too many renegotiated down but we have to be amenable to how contracts can be changed to realise client’s aspirations.”

However, asked directly whether Capita would accept reduced terms for a longer contract, Mr Slee said: “That’s one of the things we would be willing to consider.”

Among the contracts handled by staff at Capita’s Blackburn office, in Barbara Castle Way, are ones for Sheffield City Council, Westminster Council, the Ministry of Defence and for the Building Schools for the Future project. The Darwen base, in Bolton Road, has the contract for TV licensing.

While not ruling out job losses, Mr Slee said Capita Symonds’ size – it employs 4,500 in 63 UK offices - would insulate it against cuts and allow it to ‘share work around’.

He said: “We will know more after the Chancellor’s emergency budget on June 22.

“However, Capita is a large operation and job losses would be a last option.”

Capita’s offices in Blackburn and Darwen were opened in 2001 after a partnership between the firm and council chiefs.