Shared-service plan leads to DfT job cuts

The Department for Transport (DfT) expects to save £15m a year by setting up new shared-service HR centre resulting in the loss of more than 300 jobs across the department and its six executive agencies.

The DfT and its agencies, which include the Driving Standards Agency and Highways Agency, collectively employ about 20,000 people. With each agency operating its own HR team, the ratio of HR professionals to employees is “pretty high”, HR director Julian Duxfield admitted.

“We have a lot of HR people,” he told Personnel Today. “We’ve got these fragmented HR functions and a lot of organisations would have joined them up in some way.”

Duxfield said the job losses didn’t necessarily mean individual redundancies. “As far as possible we want to move people to other roles or lose people through voluntary means,” he said.

However, Duxfield refused to rule out compulsory redundancies as part of the project. “The trade unions have been asking for guarantees on this, but so far I haven’t been able to give those,” he said.

The centre, to be based in Swansea, goes live from August 2006 when the first two agencies are integrated. Other agencies, including the DfT’s corporate HR function, will then join the centre in the following three years.

The project, part of a Whitehall shared-service initiative, reflects the growing trend in the private sector and among local councils to share their back-office functions.

Recent research by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister shows that nearly two-thirds of local councils are either involved in or are considering sharing back office services with other local authorities.

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