Cutting jobcentre staff while unemployment rises is 'absurd'

Plans announced by the Department for Work and Pensions today to cut 8,000 jobs from jobcentres by March 2011 are “economically absurd”, PCS 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 unemployed.

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 payments.

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 system.

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 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 communities.

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.”



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