The closure of 13 offices by the Department for Work and Pensions could place 1,100 jobs at risk of redundancy, according to civil servants’ union PCS.
Yesterday (17 March) minister for welfare delivery David Rutley confirmed that about 12,000 employees would be moving to different sites under the restructure, which it hoped would create savings of £80m to £90m from 2028 onwards.
As many employees as possible will move to sites in “close proximity”, the department said, but about 1,300 who are not able to move will be offered retraining for another DWP role or a role in another government department.
Thirteen sites are scheduled to close by June 2023, with a further 29 set for closure or relocation in the longer term. PCS estimates that 1,100 jobs will be at risk in the initial closures, and potentially thousands more later.
According to the PCS, the offices scheduled for closure include one in Stoke-on-Trent where 213 staff work, a site in Kirkcaldy with 101 staff, one in Aberdeen with 64 posts, one in Peterborough with 100, and one in Exeter where 119 posts are based. The union has urged MPs to support constituents in the affected locations.
PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka accused the government of abandoning staff and leaving them to “fend for themselves”.
“The government was quick to clap civil servants at the start of the pandemic; they’re even quicker to scrap them now they’ve declared the pandemic over,” he said.
Rutley said the department currently had office space for 158,000 staff but a maximum forecast headcount of 97,500.
The DWP relocations and closures come alongside a wider strategy by the government to move public sector workers out of London and into new regional sites.
A report by think tank Onward in February found that – contrary to these plans – overall civil service headcount had grown 50% in London, compared with 3% across the rest of the country.