Employment in the UK is a “remarkable success” says Raab – as his government makes 1,300 DWP jobs redundant in the middle of a cost-of-living crisis.
Yes, some of the most hated civil servants in the UK are likely to lose their jobs in a back-office shake-up of the Department for Work and Pensions.
Offices are being closed across the country, meaning 12,000 DWP employees will be moved to different sites. A further 1,300 people will not be moved as there are no suitable sites near them; they will lose their jobs.
But these jobs are said to be going from offices in areas of high economic deprivation, making a mockery of the Tory government’s “levelling-up” agenda.
The PCS union said the offices closing with no alternative site being offered to staff are in: Aberdeen, Barrow in Furness, Bishop Auckland, Blackburn, Bury St Edmunds, Chippenham, Exeter, Gravesend, Kirkcaldy, Milton Keynes, Peterborough, Southampton, and Hanley in Stoke-on-Trent.
Labour’s shadow secretary for work and pensions, Jonathan Ashworth, said: “In closing DWP offices and cutting jobs in areas including Stoke, Burnley, Bishop Auckland, Doncaster, Southampton and Kirkcaldy, Therese Coffey has exposed the Tories’ rhetoric on levelling up to be utterly hollow.
“Ministers are today cutting quality public sector jobs from communities who need them in the middle of a devastating cost of living crisis.”
The decision seems to be motivated by a calculation that the DWP has more real estate than it needs – so this is about selling off land for money, Weren’t we all led to believe the government is making cash hand-over-fist due to increased fuel (and other) prices?
In all, 13 processing sites are set to close by June 2023, but more job losses are feared over the closure and relocation of 29 other sites.
Announcing the closures on March 17, Work and Pensions minister David Rutley said no “front-of-house Jobcentre Plus” services would be affected because “the services we are talking about are primarily telephony and digital”.
Reading between the lines, this suggests that it will take even longer than the hours it already does to contact the DWP about a claim by phone or online,
And the PCS union’s Mark Serwotka seems to be implying that this is the payoff for DWP staff who were taken on to handle the extra work caused by the Covid-19 lockdowns.
With the government winding down its Covid restrictions – despite a new surge in infections, hospitalisations and deaths – these “work units” (as the Tories describe people like you and me and especially benefit claimants) are now surplus to requirements.
“The government was quick to clap civil servants at the start of the pandemic – they’re even quicker to scrap them now they’ve declared the pandemic over.
“Our members have worked tirelessly behind the scenes, keeping the country running, paying out benefits to almost two-and-a-half million families, helping them to put food on their table and keep a roof over their head.
“But now, as food and fuel prices rise faster than ever, they’re being abandoned by the government and left to fend for themselves.”
I fear this is the truth of the Tory DWP slim-down: former employees transformed into claimants in the most deprived areas, at the worst possible time, receiving an inferior service from the organisation they used to represent,
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