The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has today (18 August) announced plans to axe hundreds of jobs, as a direct result of planned closures to Jobcentre offices.
Under the plans announced today, 800 staff with be offered voluntary redundancy. If they refuse, however, the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union says the DWP is likely to impose compulsory redundancy.
Earlier this year, the Tory government revealed its intention to close more than one in 10 jobcentres around the UK, which employment minister Damian Hinds said would allow the department to focus resources “on what we know best helps people into work”.
The announcement was widely condemned by opposition parties and unions, including the Scottish National Party (SNP) who warned the closures will increase the risk of benefit sanctions.
Frank Field, chair of the Commons work and pensions select committee and Labour MP for Birkenhead, said he was shocked by the closures. “The DWP is cutting off its nose to spite its face, it seems to me,” he said.
Responding to today’s announcement of job losses, PCS General Secretary Mark Serwotka 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.
“This is a dreadful announcement from the DWP. The government is forcing through unprecedented cuts on the civil service.
“We shall intensify our campaign against office closures and job cuts.”
This week there have been strikes in Sheffield and Whitley Bay against the closures of Jobcentre offices and more areas are considering strike action.
The strikers at Sheffield Eastern Avenue Jobcentre office have already taken 3 weeks of action and enter their fourth week on Monday (21 August).