Whitehall is facing the prospect of having to shed as many as 100,000 jobs over the next five years, the union representing senior civil servants has said.
The head of the FDA, Dave Penman, said he expected the Conservative government to continue primarily targeting staffing levels as it makes yet more swingeing cuts to public spending, leading to an even greater round of public sector job cuts than those under the coalition.
He said that, according to the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR)’s analysis of the chancellor’s autumn statement, only 40% of the total cuts expected between the election of the coalition government in 2010 and the next general election in 2020 had been made.
Those cuts had come at the cost of around 80,000 jobs, Penman said, leading him to believe that the remaining 60% would cost a further 100,000.
“The DWP could lose 20,000 to 30,000 staff, the HMRC could lose 10,000 to 15,000 … it is greater cuts than over the last five years and most of that is based around staffing, so it is not surprising.
“That is what the civil service is expecting, it is certainly what we are expecting. We are back to the 1930s level of spending.”
The former cabinet office minister Francis Maude led a round of job losses over the last parliament, prompting the Public and Commercial Services Union to accuse him of showing “enthusiasm for cutting jobs”.
Penman said that he wanted the government to be honest about what it could deliver if it went ahead with its plans to squeeze the civil service.
“We are saying you need to match commitments with resources – you can’t just cut that amount, then say ‘get on with it’.”
But he said that the FDA could not stop “an elected government from cutting the size of the civil service when they have been elected to do so”.
A Cabinet Office spokesman said:
“The minister will set out his priorities for this parliament in due course. Anything else at this stage, one week into his tenure, is purely speculation but all is working well so far and we have a strong, cohesive centre.”
Source – The Guardian, 18 May 2015
Ministers have been accused of launching a pre-election attack on trade unions by making it harder to collect union dues from Government employees.
North East MPs said the change could hit thousands of workers at the Benton Park View complex in Newcastle, known as Longbenton, where Whitehall departments have offices.
MP Nick Brown challenged ministers to justify the decision in the House of Commons, while Blaydon MP David Anderson claimed the Government wanted to create “another Arthur Scargill” to drum up anti-union feeling.
It follows the announcement that Government departments are to stop paying trade union subscriptions directly from the payroll on behalf of staff, a practice known as “checking off”.
Francis Maude, the Minister for the Cabinet Office, told MPs:
“I believe that this change will enable unions to build a much more direct relationship with their members, without the need for the relationship to be intermediated by the employer.”
But the change could affect 5,500 people working at Longbenton the Treasury, Department for Work and Pensions and outsourced service providers, according to Mr Brown, MP for Newcastle East.
He pointed out that departments routinely helped staff pay a range of fees and subscriptions – but the Government was only targeting unions.
Speaking in the Commons, the MP said:
“Government Departments offer a range of check-off services to their employees, including deductions for membership fees, for private sporting clubs, for private clubs more generally and even for private medical schemes.
“What is it that makes the payments of trade union dues exceptional? Why would any employer want to withdraw this from its own employees?”
Mr Anderon said the Government was attacking unions as a political stunt in the run up to the election.
“The truth is that this is nothing more than another attempt to find the bogeyman whom the Conservatives have tried to find for the last five years.
“They want another Arthur Scargill so that they can try to rattle a can in the next few weeks. That is what this is all about.”
And the move was also condemned by Bishop Auckland Labour MP Helen Goodman, who said ministers wanted to weaken unions in advance of spending cuts.
“Why has the Minister chosen this moment to crack down on check-off? Has he done so because the Office for Budget Responsibility has forecast a one million reduction in the number of public servants, and he wants to weaken the unions before that happens?”
Mr Maude told her:
“We have looked at this in a perfectly sensible, straightforward way. We want trade unions in the civil service – and in this context I am talking only about the civil service – to engage in a sensible, modern fashion, and we want public money to be deployed in the delivery of public services rather than the delivery of trade union officials’ salaries.”
“Many unions have sought to withdraw from check-off arrangements themselves, because they take the view that a modern union in a modern workplace should have a direct relationship with their members, not intermediated by the employer.
“Check-off dates from an era when many people did not have bank accounts and direct debit did not exist. It exists now, and many unions take the view, and indeed the Public and Commercial Services Union has said, that the easiest way to collect their dues is through direct debit.”
Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 12 Mar 2015
Following the recent/continuous denials from Central Government about there never having been targets imposed in Jobcentre Plus offices for Advisers and sanctions, I wish to strongly disagree with the official line.
What I can confirm is that every Wednesday morning, the office would not open until 10am as we would have an open office meeting and during this various topics were covered: changes to policy/procedures etc, and also raised was the District League Table.
This was a table that listed all of the offices in the District (Wallsend/Blyth/Whitley Bay/North Shields amongst others) and has usually headed up by S Smith the most senior manager in the office.
We were originally informed that we had to reach a target of 1 sanction a week and once it was realised that this could be reached by lunchtime on the Monday, this was increased to four a week.
This was submitted sanctions – not those sanctions that actually took effect after a decision maker had made their judgement. So the stupidity was that you could suspend a customers benefit at your desk (with them in front of you), submit the paperwork to the Decision Maker, who could then either decide to implement the sanction to decide that there was no case to answer.
The end result was that Advisers were suspending benefit on the flimsiest of reasons – simply to hit targets. Never mind the fact that this annoyed the customer – thus raising the risk level to staff and security staff and also wasting the advisers time, the decision makers time, the customers time.
So to summarise – whichever MP is stating that targets were never implemented, is either:
A) Lying – to keep on message and protect their career.
B) Has been misled by those who are there to support him/her – to protect their careers they say whatever the MP wants to hear.
Mr P Black
Source – Welfare News Service, 06 Aug 2014