The Prison Service expects to save more than £30m annually by setting up a shared-service HR centre later this year.
The move, which will see a transactional centre set-up in Newport, Wales, will result in the loss of about 500 HR jobs across the service.
The new HR operating model is part of a wider business change programme, which also includes reductions in finance and procurement support staff.
Currently, the Prison Service effectively has 129 separate HR departments, with one based in each prison. Its personnel director, Gareth Hadley, said it was increasingly difficult to justify that level of spend on transactional services.
“We are running a very costly HR operation because of our devolved structure,” he told Personnel Today. “What I want to see are more resources diverted into the things that will add value.”
As a result of the move, due to be completed by the end of October, the service will increase its spending on learning and development by about 11m over the next year, Hadley said.
He is hopeful that compulsory redundancies can be avoided. “My preference is to redeploy and retrain people so we keep the unions firmly with us,” Hadley said.
The project is part of a wider shared-services initiative across Whitehall departments. In November 2005, Personnel Today revealed that the Department of Transport planned to set up a shared-service HR centre, with expected cost savings of 15m a year.
It is understood the Department of Health is also seriously looking at establishing regional shared-service centres for use by NHS trusts.