3 July 2008
PCS has raised several concerns on this issue with Jobcentre Plus. Not least of which is the real danger of further potential flashpoints arising in our overcrowded jobcentres. We believe that the proposals as they stand will lead to FJR members being taken off the normal signing desks to deal with the extra 15 minute interviews. This can only lead to queues building up in offices, which increases risk to our members.
Despite an exchange of correspondence in which we detailed our concerns, many of which were raised with us by manager members, Jobcentre Plus insist that they will introduce this new process on 10 July. This is during the peak leave period and will create difficulties with providing an adequate training package for members who have to take on this role. The sole reason for bringing it in so quickly is, as far as we can tell, to “deliver the efficiencies early in the year”. In other words, Jobcentre Plus expect this revision to cut staff, so the earlier they bring it in the better.
Their own estimates are that the change will mean a decrease of 109 band C new claims advisors, and an increase of 12 band B staff across Jobcentre Plus. In an organisation as big as Jobcentre Plus these numbers are miniscule and cannot justify the massive amount of resource necessary to plan and implement it, or the increased risk to our members.
PCS will continue to argue that this process should be deferred. In the meantime, we advise members to demand full training before taking on this new role and to ensure that your own, and your colleagues’ safety is not compromised by arrangements put in place locally. There should be a local risk assessment done before the revised process is implemented.
The management position is that this new process will make Jobcentre Plus more efficient, will improve customer service and will not increase the pressure on staff. Based on bitter experience PCS fear the opposite may be true. PCS believes that this change will have an adverse impact on customer service, depriving them of access to a full work-focused interview, and will make jobcentres more congested and unsafe.
We are still adamant that no member should be expected to work twice as hard simply to satisfy the employer’s need to deal with the resource crisis that they have designed themselves. So you should not be put under pressure to do the work of two people.
If members have examples of problems or concerns arising out of this change they should initially talk to their branch representative. Branches should feed issues up to Tom Penn, c/o DWP group office.