The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) HR chief has unveiled plans to cut up to a third of jobs from his HR team in a bid to save costs.
Chris Last, director-general of HR, admitted the function was over-staffed and he would axe up to 800 roles from the 2,500-strong HR team by 2012. The move would lead to increased savings and provide a more professional service, he insisted.
Last said: “The HR function is probably too big. It needs to be reduced and HR needs to constantly improve the service it provides. We haven’t finalised [the programme] yet, but a third probably [will go] within three years.”
The majority of surplus HR staff could hopefully be redeployed to other roles, he added. This could potentially be to Jobcentre Plus, which is looking to recruit an extra 6,000 front-line staff to meet an expected surge in demand.
However, as part of the shake-up, Last said he was recruiting 20 more HR graduates this year as he aims to develop new talent within the function.
The news comes as Personnel Today reported last week that hundreds of public sector HR professionals faced the chop as local authorities began downsizing support functions as the recession starts to bite.
However, Last insisted that the DWP – the largest department in the Civil Service – had been under pressure to make efficiency savings before the financial crisis. Last year ministers put a target in place for the department to cut 12,000 jobs. The DWP has cut about 30,000 posts since 2005.
Last joined the DWP in January 2008 after more than 25 years at car giant Ford. He is one of a number of private sector HR professionals who have recently made the jump to Whitehall posts.