Department for Work and Pensions offices to close with more than 1,100 job losses expected
MPs say the move is "counter-intuitive" to the levelling-up agenda
The Department for Work and Pensions offices are to close, putting thousands of their staff at risk of redundancy.
At least 1,100 job losses are to be expected with SNP Work and Employment Spokesman Chris Stephens claiming 3,000 people could be axed.
Mr Stephens also claimed the DWP was “looking to close offices in high economic deprivation areas” which was “counter-intuitive to the so-called levelling-up agenda”.
Labour Shadow Business minister Justin Madders has also spoken out against the job cuts, saying “this is the opposite of levelling up, this is levelling down and it’s closing down".
The MP for Ellesmere Port and Neston said: “It looks as if the Department for Work and Pensions doesn’t believe in levelling up, it doesn’t believe in its own rhetoric on jobs, and it doesn’t believe in keeping people in work.
Mr Madders believes the DWP offices to be closed are in Stoke, in Southend, in Peterborough, in Chesterfield and Aberdeen, in Kirkcaldy, in Barrow, Bishop Auckland, Doncaster and Burnley.
He continued: “The PCS union has said that its members are facing spiralling workloads, so is it not the case that the department actually needs more staff, not less?
"If these closures are allowed to go ahead, we will be faced with the absurd prospect of making staff redundant in one area while recruiting new staff in another to do exactly the same job. That will be both costly and inefficient.”
Work and Pensions minister David Rutley said they have been "working very closely with colleagues and with the PCS (Public and Commercial Services Union)" in recent months.
Mr Rutley continued: “There are going to be around 12,000 colleagues who will be moving from one site to another in close proximity, around 28 sites involved there.
“In terms of colleagues that will be affected where there is no other strategic site nearby, there are around 1,300 colleagues that could be involved.”
The moves are to take place by June 2023, the PCS union said. The true number of job cuts is not yet clear.
Mr Rutley said the Government would “see what opportunities there are within DWP” and other departments for affected staff.
The change “does not impact job centres and the customer-facing interactions,” he added.
The announcement of the job cuts was made preemptively by the PCS as Mr Rutley claimed they broke the embargo of the news
Mr Rutley told MPs: “This seems to be a very unusual situation. It is very disappointing that the embargo with the PCS (Public and Commercial Services Union) does not seem to have been respected.
“Clearly our staff should be the top priority at this time and I hope that colleagues will understand that I am not able to go into all the details this morning as we are currently briefing affected colleagues as we speak."