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DWP announces staff moves across Operations

DWP has today announced its intention to transfer nearly 1,000 staff out of Work Services Directorate into other parts of Operations. Their intention is to do this by a combination of voluntary and compulsory moves.

Voluntary Moves

Staff in Work Services, who live within travelling distance of the offices listed below, are being asked to voluntarily transfer, on a permanent basis, to:

  • 2 Universal Credit Service Centres – Glasgow and Bangor (104 staff)
  • 20 Contact Centres – Middlesbrough, Coventry, Telford, Lincoln, Lowestoft, Annersley, Norwich, Derby, Halifax, Paisley, Dundee, Exeter, Poole, Taunton, Torquay, Newport, Bridgend, Pembroke Dock (436 staff)
  • 4 Benefit Centres – Stratford, Hackney and Worthing, Cosham (156 staff)

Compulsory Moves

Glasgow Visiting Booking centre to move to Glasgow Universal Credit centre (95 staff)

Glasgow Access to Work centre to move to Glasgow Universal Credit centre (18 staff)

Cardiff Visiting centre to move to Pensions Directorate (71 staff)

Southampton Visiting Centre to move to Benefits Directorate (49 staff)

If DWP are unable to attract sufficient volunteers to transfer they will consider whether there is a need to enforce compulsory transfers. However no decision has yet been made to do this and DWP have committed themselves to further discussions with PCS before any such decision is made.

Why is DWP doing this?

DWP maintain that there are more staff in Work Services directorate than they are resourced for. At the same time DWP say that they need more staff in Universal Credit, Contact Centres, Benefit Centres and Pensions. DWP claim that the recent falls in unemployment mean that they require less staff in Job Centres despite the recent increase in activity in Job Centres caused by the Help to Work and SR13 Conditionality measures.

PCS disputes this. While we welcome the belated recognition that some parts of Operations need extra staff we do not accept that Work Services is over-staffed. In fact we believe that more staff are needed there every bit as much as in other parts of Operations. Management’s plans will leave the Job Centre network severely under-staffed at a time where there is a massive increase in footfall being created. It is a major risk to lose staff from Job Centres when the impact of the new conditionality measures is still unknown.

PCS also disputes that DWP Visiting

can manage with the loss of Cardiff, Glasgow and Southampton Visiting Centres. PCS is in urgent talks with DWP management about the future of DWP Visiting if these centres are closed.

DWP needs more staff

The real underlying problem in DWP is simply that it does not have enough staff. 25,000 staff have been lost since 2010 and there are now not enough staff to continue to do all of the work that the department needs to do. Instead of desperately moving staff around the department to try and fill the biggest holes in staffing DWP management should go back to Ministers and demand the extra resources to recruit the additional staffing that it so urgently needs.

Other staffing measures

As well as the transfers announced today DWP also intends to recruit 250 Apprentices on a 12 month contract from July. These will be deployed in Contact Centres (200) and Pensions (50). PCS has told the department that it should only recruit apprentices if they are prepared to offer them a permanent post at the end of their apprenticeship. DWP have refused to agree to do this. PCS believe that the use of apprentices to fill staff vacancies is a deliberate casualisation of the workforce and denies the apprentices the job security that a large employer like DWP should give to everyone it employs.

The transfers to CMG that were announced last year will continue as planned, even though DWP admits that the areas exporting staff to CMG now need more staff. This shows the complete inability of DWP to properly plan its staffing requirements.

The AA to AO promotion exercise will continue as planned.

Promotion opportunities are being advertised at HEO, SEO and Grade 7 in Work Services. This will be open across the civil service to apply.

Conclusion

While PCS welcomes the attempt to fill some vacancies by volunteers, we are opposed to any use of compulsion. We don’t accept that Work Services is in any way over-resourced and we fear that Visiting may collapse if these changes are implemented. DWP must accept that the only solution is to recruit additional staffing. PCS believes that DWP cannot live within the drastically cut staffing budgets that it has been set and we will continue to press management to urgently start permanent external recruitment. PCS will be discussing our response to this announcement at the DWP Group Conference next week.

Source: www.pcs.org.uk

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