Cutting jobcentre staff while unemployment rises is 'absurd', union says
Plans announced by the Department for Work and Pensions today (28 June) to
cut 8,000 jobs from jobcentres by March 2011 are "economically absurd", the
Public and Commercial Services union says.
Job cuts on this scale are unprecedented at a time when unemployment is
continuing to rise and the move will not just add to the jobless figures, it
will further damage the economy and seriously hit help and support for the
These are the first largescale job cuts announced by the new government, and
the union says it proves the coalition's deficit reduction plan is being
driven by ideology rather than ideas.
Instead of slashing public spending, and running the risk of plunging the
country into another recession, the government should be investing in the
public sector and creating jobs to increase tax revenues and reduce welfare
The union also says that if the government was serious about tackling the
debt, it would target the wealthy individuals and organisations whose tax
avoidance and evasion measures contribute to an estimated £120 billion being
lost to the UK economy every year; introduce a 'Robin Hood' tax on currency
transactions; and cancel the replacement of the Trident nuclear missile
Shortly after last week's budget was announced, PCS described it as "one of
the most regressive we have seen for many years", and this has since been
confirmed by independent economic analysts. The planned rise in VAT from
17.5% to 20% next January will disproportionately affect people on low
incomes. And plans to cut welfare spending by £11 billion included forcing
more people off disability living allowance, a three-year freeze to child
benefit and cuts to tax credits.
Now in a message to staff, DWP says it wants to cut posts in jobcentres from
just over 84,000 to about 76,000 by March 2011. The cuts will be to fixed
term appointments, hurriedly made 18 months ago to cope with rising
unemployment when the first effects of the recession were felt. The
appointments would not have had to be made if DWP had not cut 30,000 jobs
between 2005 and 2008, and the union has said consistently that these staff
should be made permanent.
PCS is seeking to work with other unions and campaign groups to form the
widest possible alliances to defend communities across the UK from the
devastating social impact of the government's cuts to the welfare state.
PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: "When unemployment is still
rising, it's economically absurd to drive even more people out of work and
sever the lifeline for thousands and thousands of vulnerable people in our
"While the millionaires in the cabinet repeat the PR mantra that 'we're all
in this together', unemployed workers, pensioners, disabled people and
low-paid public servants are forgiven for wondering why they are being made
to shoulder all the burden.
"In just one month, this so-called 'progressive coalition' has set in train
the most disastrous economic plan in living memory - the effects of which
would be felt for decades to come if we don't do something about it. The
time has come for unions, community groups, campaigners - and everyone who
believes a better, more just, future is possible - to unite against this
shameful attack on the public sector and the welfare state."
- The Public and Commercial Services union represents civil and public
servants in central government. It has more than 300,000 members in over 200
departments and agencies. It also represents workers in parts of government
transferred to the private sector. PCS is the UK's fifth largest union and
is affiliated to the TUC. The general secretary is Mark Serwotka and the
president is Janice Godrich
- Follow PCS on Twitter http://twitter.com/pcs_union