The Tories would slash up to £2bn from the public sector payroll within a year as part of moves to bring the deficit under control, it has been revealed.
The reduction could see an estimated 20,000 to 40,000 jobs go over the next 12 months, according to experts.
Details of Conservative plans were disclosed by the party’s main adviser on efficiency, Sir Peter Gershon, in an interview with the Financial Times.
He was speaking as David Cameron pledged to crack down on “fat cats” in the public sector, insisting the highest earners would be forced to take cuts.
However, the information about where wider cuts will fall is sure to give fresh ammunition to Labour as the parties engage in bitter wrangling over tax and spending plans.
Gordon Brown is to use a speech this evening to step up his attack on Tory claims that £6bn of efficiency savings can fund reversing the bulk of planned tax increases.
Labour strategists believe that they can unpick the policy and win the argument on National Insurance, despite a slew of senior business figures coming out against the rises.
Mr Brown accused Mr Cameron and shadow chancellor George Osborne of doing their calculations “on the back of an envelope”.
In an article for the Guardian, Mr Cameron set out plans to ensure that no senior manager in the public sector can earn more than 20 times more than the lowest-paid person in their organisation.
The scheme could mean that up to 200 senior public sector executives would face pay cuts. They could include Ofcom chief executive Ed Richards, whose reported £392,056 salary is thought to be 22 times higher than the lowest full-time salary in his quango.
“We are already committed to pay transparency and accountability, but I think it is time to go further,” he wrote.