Opinion Former Article

PCS: Grayling to be urged by union to pull back from cuts

The Department for Work and Pensions must halt its damaging cuts programme, the secretary of state for work and pensions Chris Grayling will be told on Wednesday (14) at a meeting with the Public and Commercial Services union.

The union will urge the minister to consider the very real threat to the services provided by his department, particularly in light of a critical Commons report into the Department for Work and Pensions' finances expected to be published today (13).

The report by the public accounts committee is expected to say it will be a "considerable challenge" for the DWP to cut its running costs by £2.7 billion by 2015.

It will add that "it is not clear" how the department will operate as a result of job cuts and office closures, and that "the absence of a clear model of how the department will operate in future creates uncertainty and risks unsettling staff whose morale is already low".

The department is trying to cut around 20% of its staff. The number of staff in Jobcentre Plus, for example, was around 83,000 in 2010, but there are plans to cut this to 65,600 by March 2012.

Senior representatives from the union are due to meet Mr Grayling on Wednesday and will repeat their concerns that the cuts are damaging vital public services, at a time of consistently high unemployment, and that throwing more people out of work will only add to the country's economic problems.

The union is hosting a public meeting this evening (13) against the closure of the jobcentre in Camberwell, south London. The area's local Labour MP and deputy leader of the Labour party Harriet Harman will join the union's national president Janice Godrich on the platform.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: "Cutting jobcentre staff and closing offices makes absolutely no sense and shows this government has no credible plan for getting our economy back on track.

"This latest report from the public accounts committee echoes some of our grave concerns about the quality of the public services our members will be able to provide."

ENDS

Notes

- For information and interview requests contact PCS national press officer Richard Simcox on 020 7801 2747 or 07833 978216

- The Public and Commercial Services union represents civil and public servants in central government. It has around 300,000 members in over 200 departments and agencies, and in parts of government transferred to the private sector. PCS is the UK's sixth largest union and is affiliated to the TUC. The general secretary is Mark Serwotka and the president is Janice Godrich - on Twitter @janicegodrich

- Follow PCS on Twitter @pcs_union

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