Up to 1,000 jobs ‘at risk’ in latest public sector blow

News: Sheffield Telegraph online 24-hours a day.
News: Sheffield Telegraph online 24-hours a day.

SHEFFIELD’S public sector faced another jobs blow this week with fears that between 500 and 1,000 civil service posts with the Department for Work and Pensions could be lost as part of a Government reorganisation.

Staff have been told 3,000 of the DWP’s 10,000 corporate jobs across the country – around a fifth are in Sheffield – will go between now and 2015.

The department says the number of job losses locally is not yet known, although Mayfield Court in West Street is due to close, with an anticipation of no compulsory redundancies .

The PCS civil service union is concerned the jobs tally could be as high as 1,000 at a time when staff are already under pressure.

Sheffield’s economy is still heavily dependent on the public sector and the latest gloom comes at a time when the council is looking to shed up to 690 posts over the next year.

Last week the Government announced that the DVLA office in Napier Street, near Ecclesall Road, was one of 39 regional offices facing closure as part of a strategy to centralise work in Swansea. Thirty staff are based in Napier Street.

As well as Mayfield Court, the DWP has buildings off Hanover Way and at Steel City House in West Street.

A spokeswoman said: “Nationally, we are reducing corporate posts by about 3,000 between 2011 and 2015. Because many posts have flexible locations, it’s not possible to say how many of these will be in Sheffield.

“However, it will remain one of our major hub sites for corporate roles. We do not expect any compulsory redundancies in Sheffield from this.

“Because we have redesigned our corporate operations, most people have new and different elements to their roles. So redeployment isn’t really a meaningful term here as it could be applied to everyone.

“We have given notice on Mayfield Court as we don’t need all our Sheffield estate in future. Staff and functions will be rehoused in our other buildings, two of which are also on West Street.”

Martin John, national officer for the PCS, said: “The number of job losses represents almost a third of corporate posts. In Sheffield, there are 2,000 corporate staff, so between 500 and 1,000 could go.

“A lot of these job losses will be expert specialist posts. If the Government was serious about responding to rising unemployment it would be increasing the capacity of the DWP, not making these cuts. There is so much work for staff to do at present that they cannot cope.”

One Sheffield staff member said: “Our Christmas party was only held on Friday night, when staff were in limbo about what would happen to their jobs so hardly felt like celebrating. It has certainly spoilt the festivities not knowing what is going to happen.

“There are a lot of people in their late 50s who may want to take voluntary redundancy but many other staff do not know where they are going.

“Higher executive officers have now been told what is happening but it is other executive officers and administration staff who are likely to bear the brunt of the redundancies and they will not be given details until January.

“We have been told that many people whose jobs will go from the corporate division are likely to be offered redeployment within the department at places such as job centres – but these could be up to an hour’s journey away.”