Workers in areas with the highest unemployment in the country are under threat of losing their jobs from the government department that is meant to cut unemployment – the Department of Works and Pensions (DWP)! The DWP are portraying the plan as creating jobs in the valleys when in fact valleys workers will lose them and the DWP will lose workers with valuable experience and skills.
According to the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union representing civil servants who work for the DWP hundreds of workers could be forced out of their jobs as the department closes local offices in the valleys and re-locate them in a centralised office near Pontypridd. Workers currently employed at the Cwmbran office face a 5 hour round trip every day. Effectively they are being sacked.
5 DWP offices will be closed and the work moved to the new hub in Treforest industrial estate from: –
Merthyr Benefit Centre 262 staff
Caerphilly Benefit Centre 225 staff
Cwmbran Pension Centre 171 staff
Newport Benefit Centre 365 staff
Gabalfa, Cardiff 714 staff
This plan was exposed last year, but the DWP has waited until now to announce the plans.
PCS said this plan “is dressed up as creating jobs in the South Wales Valleys when in fact it is taking jobs out of local communities across South Wales where every job is needed. The majority of our members already live or work in the Valleys. These communities are already full of empty office space so it is very cost effective to house staff in the local areas.
“DWP management have reviewed the feasibility of PCS members being able to move to the new location based on their home postcodes and they estimate that 600 staff will be outside the reasonable mobility to travel to the new site on a daily basis.
“PCS believe the actual figures will be much higher than this as looking at postcodes does not take into account the extensive caring responsibilities of our members and disabilities which make travelling long distances impossible. PCS members tested the journey when the potential site was leaked and exposed the difficult or impossible journey that they would face.
“PCS union rep Sian based in Cwmbran Pension Centre did the journey with Torfaen MP Nick Thomas-Symonds and it took 5½ hour round trip to get from her home in Cwmbran to Treforest industrial estate. This is similar to the problems many of our members would face and is clearly impossible for any of our members let alone a single parent with a 6-hour working day. Many of our members have not taken up promotion opportunities as they have been unable to travel further to work because of caring responsibilities.
“DWP management have paid scant attention to the need for jobs in local communities across South Wales despite delivering services to help the unemployed back into work in these areas. The closure of sites will have a devastating impact on these communities and the sustainable future for these towns. There is no understanding of the public transport issues travelling across the Valleys or the congestion problems.
“Our members have decades of experience in delivering benefits and services to pensioners, the unemployed and sick and disabled claimants. Expertise that DWP management are prepared to throw on the scrapheap with potentially up to half the staff unable to move with the work. This is at a time that staffing levels are at an all time low and the pressure on our members to deliver services is enormous in the Department
“The Tory Government’s drive for concentration of civil service work into huge hubs is devastating jobs in local communities across the UK. This has an even worse impact in Wales with our smaller urban centres and the geography.”
PCS Wales Chair Katrine Williams said “It is disgraceful that senior DWP management has ignored union concerns about retaining local jobs and providing a sustainable future for our communities and is prepared to put our members at risk of redundancy for a vanity hub project.”