DWP hikes redundancy numbers in Jobcentre closure programme
Union warns of further strikes as number of expected redundancies rises to 800
DWP announced 750 job losses in July. Credit: PA
The Department for Work and Pensions has announced plans to cut at least 800 jobs as part of its office closures programme, an increase from the 750 redundancies confirmed in July.
As part of its office closures programme – under which 130 Jobcentres and back-office sites were initially earmarked for closure – the department proposes to make 800 people redundant as soon as February 2018.
Staff will be offered voluntary redundancy at first, but the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) trade union warned that compulsory redundancies are likely to follow.
- DWP unveils plans to shut 130-plus offices
- DWP staff step up industrial action over Sheffield jobcentre closure
- Compulsory redundancy warning as DWP confirms 750 jobs to go in Jobcentre closures
In July, DWP revealed its updated plans for rationalising its estate, which include merging 68 Jobcentres into nearby sites, co-locating 40 Jobcentres with local authorities, and relocating regional services to up to seven hubs around the country.
The department estimates that the reorganisation will save more than £140m a year for the next 10 years.
The July announcement said that the department expected to see 750 job losses, with most staff remaining in their current offices or moving to nearby DWP sites.
But PCS said on Friday that DWP had entered into formal consultation with the union on at least 800 potential redundancies.
Mark Serwotka, PCS general secretary, said the government is forcing through “unprecedented cuts on the civil service”, and that the union will intensify its campaign against office closures and job cuts.
He said: "At a time when workloads in DWP are at record highs, DWP should be recruiting new staff, not forcing loyal and experienced staff onto the dole.
“PCS will continue to campaign against these redundancies using every means at our disposal.”
There have already been strikes against office closures in Whitley Bay and Sheffield – with a fourth week of industrial action starting today in Sheffield, where 70 staff members are affected – and other areas are considering action, the public sector union said.
Following a judicial review that ruled unlawful the changes made in 2016 to the civil service redundancy scheme, DWP has been forced to offer voluntary redundancy under 2010 terms, which are more generous.
HMRC halted its redundancy process earlier this month, while the government considers appealing the High Court ruling.
The 2010 scheme offers one month’s pay for every year of service, capped at 21 months for staff below pension age. The now-suspended 2016 scheme offered only three weeks’ pay for every year, capped at 18 months.
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