In letters to his staff on 20 September, Jonathan Stephens, the permanent secretary at the Department of Culture Media and Sport told recipients: “your role – along with all permanent roles below SCS – is now at risk of compulsory redundancy.”
Stephens went on to outline the options available to staff: that if they did not submit an application for a role in the new reorganised DCMS; take voluntary redundancy; or leave by mutual consent; then they are “deemed to have resigned” and will leave DCMS “without and financial compensation”.
Many of the employees at DCMS have been responsible for delivering the Olympics, Diamond Jubilee, and managing the transfer of television transmissions from analogue to digital. With these projects completed, many staff are no longer required.
The letter stated that the department’s efforts to downsize have been challenging and it has attempted to avoid compulsory redundancies through two voluntary redundancy exercises since 2010. But to achieve the 50 per cent cut target further reductions to the pay bill are needed.
He said that the “fairest way” to make this reduction is to “proceed to a voluntary redundancy scheme followed by a selection exercise across the whole department”, and that, “This gives everyone the opportunity to demonstrate the skills and abilities that will be needed to ensure DCMS continues to succeed in the future.”
The scheme for the fresh round of voluntary redundancies was opened immediately the day the letters were sent, but staff are in a difficult position with the choices they have to make.
If staff apply and then decide not to take a voluntary redundancy offer because they are pursuing a job application for another position at DCMS, which subsequently fails, then they will have to accept compulsory redundancy terms.
But if a member of staff fails to secure a voluntary redundancy agreement and also fails to secure a new job position then they are guaranteed terms of departure on a voluntary redundancy basis.
In a statement the DCMS said: ‘The department is playing a full part in the cross-Government work to reduce the deficit, and this includes making 50 per cent cuts to our administrative costs. Much progress has already been made particularly in reducing non pay costs such as accommodation, but it is clear that more needs to be done.
“The post-Olympics DCMS will be a smaller, more flexible organisation, a mixture of permanent and temporary staff – we believe it will become a model for future civil service working. To get there, however, a number of posts will be cut and we hope to achieve this through a voluntary redundancy scheme and a fair selection process for staff remaining.”