DWP to close 42 UK offices putting more than 1,000 jobs at risk
More than 1,000 civil servant jobs are at risk of being axed after the Department for Work and Pensions unveiled plans to close dozens of offices across the UK.
The government will close 42 DWP sites by the end of June, the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union said – a move which it said would put at least 1,100 jobs at risk.
Speaking in the Commons on Wednesday, DWP minister David Rutley told MPs that meetings were being held with affected staff on Thursday. Labour claimed up to 3,000 jobs could be at risk as part of the plans.
Mr Rutley said that the government would “see what opportunities there are within DWP” and other departments for affected staff, and added that the change “does not impact job centres and the customer-facing interactions”.
Labour accused the government of “levelling down,” saying several of the planned closures would affect areas including northern England.
Justin Madders, the party’s shadow business minister, said: “It looks as if the Department for Work and Pensions doesn’t believe in levelling up, it doesn’t believe in its own rhetoric on jobs, and it doesn’t believe in keeping people in work.
“We hear that offices are going to be closed in Stoke, in Southend, in Peterborough, in Chesterfield and Aberdeen, in Kirkcaldy, in Barrow, Bishop Auckland, Doncaster and Burnley, taking jobs out of these communities.”
“We’ve heard up to 12,000 jobs might be affected, but how many of those workers will be able to find new jobs locally within the department?” he said, also asking if the minister can guarantee there would be no compulsory redundancies.”
Mr Rutley accused the PCS of breaking an embargo by announcing the closures and said the DWP would publish a written statement to parliament on Friday morning.
“This seems to be a very unusual situation. It is very disappointing that the embargo with the PCS (Public and Commercial Services Union) does not seem to have been respected,” he said.
“Clearly our staff should be the top priority at this time and I hope that colleagues will understand that I am not able to go into all the details this morning as we are currently briefing affected colleagues as we speak.”
In a statement published earlier, the PCS said more than 1,000 roles are at risk over the closure of 13 processing sites, with more job losses feared over the closure and relocation of a further 29 sites. Closures are scheduled to happen by June 2023.
PCS General Secretary Mark Serwotka said: “Their union will be there for them, fighting for their jobs. But if they need support from the state, who will provide it when they’re gone?”
The PCS said added that “having helped keep the UK running during the pandemic, DWP has rewarded our members by announcing large-scale office closures, which will almost certainly mean job losses.”