DWP announced today that there will be a Voluntary Exit Scheme (VES) for some staff working in Working Age Directorate (WAD) and Disability Services and Dispute Resolution Directorate (DSDRD).
The staff that will be in scope for this VES will be AO-HEO grades based in 25 WAD sites and also 4 offices that have Working Age DRT. The employer is aiming for around 430 staff to leave under this scheme. The scheme is entirely voluntary.
The sites that have been selected are mainly transition sites with a 2021 expected closure date. 7 of the sites though are WAD satellite sites located in job centres. Transitional sites with a 2023 expected closure date are excluded from this exercise as are other non-transition WAD sites. DWP has consistently told PCS that no final decision has yet been taken on the future of the transition sites but this announcement would appear to be based on the assumption that these sites are set to close. This will be extremely concerning for our members in these sites.
The sites selected for the VES are:
Bury St Edmunds
Cosham Roebuck House
The 4 DSDRD offices that have been chosen for the VES scheme are:
Senior WAD management have advised that they forecast by April 2019 that they will be in an oversupply position of 1,400 staff. They say that this is due to WAD work migrating to Universal Credit from January 2019 and the expectation that the demand for WAD LEAP work will decrease next year.
PCS rejects over-staffing claim
Whilst recognising that there are major changes taking place next year, PCS does not accept that there is requirement to lose 430 staff. Although it is true that WAD work is decreasing, work is increasing in other parts of the department and plans are in place for hundreds of new staff to be recruited. Additionally members working in Universal Credit continue to raise concerns regarding staffing levels. The high volumes of overtime being worked in WAD also do not point to there being too many staff there.
A key driver behind this exit scheme appears to be reductions in the overall DWP staffing budget for 2019/20 meaning the department may not have the money to pay for all of its staff
At a time when DWP is planning to recruit large numbers of staff it makes no sense to spend taxpayers money offering exits to other staff who could and should be redeployed onto that work. As well as the cost, the department would also lose some of its most experienced staff at a time when that experience is most needed.
What will be the terms of the VES?
Incredibly DWP are not even able to confirm what the terms of the Civil Service Compensation Scheme will be for this VES exercise. Although they are to offer the scheme based on the 2010 terms, they say that if the Cabinet Office, as is expected, introduce new CSCS terms during the course of this VES, then those new terms will be the ones that apply to this VES scheme. PCS does not expect any new CSCS terms to be beneficial though the detail of them is at present unknown.
Management have made clear that the overall DWP staffing situation remains fluid and the numbers required to exit could vary over the next few months. PCS will be meeting management regularly over the next few weeks where we will be seeking assurances about the future of WAD, the transition sites and the satellite sites. PCS will provide members with feedback from these meetings.
PCS will be holding members' meetings at each site over the next few weeks and would encourage everyone to attend. If members have any questions regarding the VES, please contact your local PCS rep in the first instance.