HM Courts and Tribunal Service’s plans to consolidate operations based in dozens of offices into a handful of hubs are putting up to 500 jobs at risk, according to the civil service’s largest union.
Justice minister Dominic Raab yesterday named Birmingham and Stoke-on Trent as the host cities for two new service centres that will each have more than 300 staff and which will be part of a £1bn drive for greater digital case management.
The announcement also said HMCTS was planning to consolidate fine-collection staff from more than 50 bases across the country to just three new centres – in Leeds, Runcorn and Cwmbran.
HMCTS said the move would “improve efficiency, reduce delays and increase the amount of fines collected”, and free staff from an ICT system created in 1989.
But the PCS union said 500 jobs of staff working in the National Compliance and Enforcement Service had been placed in jeopardy across England and Wales, and that it planned to fight the office closure programme underpinning the plan and refused to rule out strike action.
General secretary Mark Serwotka said HMCTS staff could expect more job losses as functions continued to be centralised and jobs are cut as a result of the digitisation of the courts and tribunals service.
“We are opposed to work being centralised and our members’ jobs being put at risk,” he said
“We will, in consultation with our members, produce strong cases against office closures which we expect the employer to listen to and act upon.
“Failure to do so will give us no alternative but to actively consider all other means to stop the closures including industrial action.”
PCS added that HMCTS was also planning to privatise the work of the civilian enforcement officers, whose work would be transferred to private-sector bailiffs.
HMCTS confirmed to CSW that jobs were at risk as a result of the transformation of fine-collection operations, but did not specify numbers, saying only that it aimed to help permanent NCES staff find new jobs as an alternative to redundancy.
A spokeswoman said: “We recognise the impact of these changes on employees, which is why we are focused on helping our permanent staff find new roles either within the new service or in wider government.”