24 June 2022

Parliament hears why DWP office closures should not go ahead

The devastating impact on services, communities and staff resulting from the DWP mass office closures was highlighted by PCS Parliamentary Group Chair, Chris Stephens.

Having helped keep the UK running during the pandemic, DWP has rewarded PCS members by announcing large-scale office closures – 43 are earmarked for closure – which will almost certainly mean job losses.

We are clear that these announcements – following the previous closures under the people and locations programme – will have a devastating impact on the services our members provide and the local communities where the offices are based and are a serious threat to members’ jobs.

PCS Parliamentary Group chair Chris Stephens raised our concerns during an adjournment debate on the closures in the House of Commons yesterday.

He said: “Those of us in the PCS Parliamentary Group are clear that following the previous closures under the people and locations programme these (latest) closures will have a devastating impact on the services that staff provide and the services and the local communities where they are based. And they a serious threat to DWP staff’s jobs.”

“These devastating announcements will be very worrying for many families at a time people are already facing the pressures of a Tory-made cost of living crisis.”

Jobs at risk

On 17 March, when the original announcement was made there were 1,118 staff in processing sites that will close without their work being consolidated within the vicinity, and 7,341 staff in sites where the work is being consolidated into other offices.

The speed at which DWP has moved to issue "at risk of redundancy" letters to members across the 25 of the 43 sites vindicates our union's stance that jobs will be lost as a result of the closures.

DUP MP Jim Shannon pointed out that the centralisation or closure of services is never a good suggestion for people in isolated areas.

Chris replied to say: “Many of these closures do not seem to make a lot of sense if their impact on the local economy has been taken into account. Many of these closures are in areas of economic deprivation that can hardly afford to lose good-quality public sector jobs.”

Women are the majority of the DWP’s workforce, on some sites constituting over 75%, but Chris said that “no tangible mitigations” have been offered to compensate for the clear detriment that women face from this office closure programme. He also highlighted that people with disabilities are likely to face a disproportionate impact from office closures as they will have to travel, in some cases by making significant journeys, further to work.

Chris made is clear that he does not believe these closures should go ahead and urged the  government to urgently listen to the concerns of MPs, staff and trade unions and “do the right thing and scrap the closures.”

What you can do

You can help support our campaign for jobs, services and communities by signing our petition and writing to your MP.

The more people who are in PCS, the stronger we are. Please recruit your colleagues who are not yet PCS members, they can join in minutes online.