The Department for Work and Pensions has launched a call for voluntary redundancy bids as part of an effort to reduce headcount at 10 offices in England and three in Scotland.
PCS, the civil service’s biggest union, condemned the move, which came after its cross-departmental strike ballot over pay and job cuts closed. It said the proposals for 424 new job losses came on top of almost 800 announced in other locations over the summer.
A jobs-at-risk breakdown provided by the union earmarked DWP’s Crossgate House base in Doncaster as being in line for the most cuts, with a question mark placed over 68 roles. Beetwell House in Chesterfield is in line to lose 59 staff, while Southgate House in Milton Keynes has 58 jobs at risk.
Ebury House in Aberdeen has 35 jobs at risk – the highest number of the three Scotland offices included in yesterday’s announcement to staff.
PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said DWP had acted with “cynicism and callousness” in delaying the announcement of its latest wave of redundancies until the union’s strike ballot closed at noon yesterday.
“The government may have binned its headline plans to scrap 91,000 jobs; it’s now trying to impose them by stealth,” Serwotka said.
“We’ll continue to fight these unnecessary office closures at a time when our public services are already over-stretched and we need more civil servants, not less.
“We’ll also fight for better redundancy terms for our members as the DWP has refused to commit to the terms of the 2010 scheme – a cynical move that could cost our members thousands of pounds.”
A DWP spokesperson said the at-risk notices related to planned office closures rather than a desire to cut staff numbers.
“This is not a plan to reduce our headcount – where possible, colleagues in offices due to close are being offered opportunities to be redeployed to a nearby site or retrained into a new role in DWP or another government department,” they said.
“We are making every effort to fully support our staff through this process, including offering some affected staff the option of considering voluntary redundancy if they wish, but our priority is for staff to remain in the department where they can.”
In addition to the DWP offices named above, at-risk notices have been issued to staff at Barrow-in-Furness; Bathgate; Bury St Edmonds; Exeter; Peterborough; Seaham; Southend-on-Sea; Stirling; and Wellingborough.
The result of the PCS civil service-wide strike ballot is due to be announced on Thursday.
This story was updated at 17:55 on 8 November 2022 to include a response from DWP