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Water Service

Volume 447: debated on Monday 12 June 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many people are employed by the Department for Regional Developmentā€™s Water Service; how many will be employed by the proposed Gov-Co; what measures are planned to facilitate staff transfers within the civil service for water service employees; and what relocation packages are planned for water service employees wishing to relocate to Belfast to work for the proposed Gov-Co. (75587)

The Chief Executive of Water Service (Mrs. Katharine Bryan) has been asked to write to the hon. Gentleman in response to this question.

Letter from Katharine Bryan, dated 8 June 2006:

You recently asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland a Parliamentary Question about the number of people employed by Water Service, how many will be employed by the proposed Gov-Co, what measures are planned to facilitate staff transfers within the Civil Service for Water Service employees, and what relocation packages are planned for Water Service employees wishing to relocate to Belfast to work for the proposed Gov-Co. (75587). I have been asked to reply as this issue falls within my responsibility as Chief Executive of Water Service.

At 30 April 2006, 920 non-Industrial and 876 industrial whole time equivalent staff were employed by Water Service. Detailed planning for the achievement of efficiencies in 2007 and beyond is proceeding but the level of efficiency required of Northern Ireland Water Ltd has not yet been finalised. It is not therefore possible, at this stage, to give definitive numbers but a further reduction in numbers is planned.

As part of a wider staff migration programme, Water Service is currently working closely with the Northern Ireland Civil Service (NICS) to facilitate the transfer back to the NICS of the optimum number of staff as the business will allow. Since March 2005, Water Service has facilitated a total of 93 transfer requests which have resulted in staff moving back to the wider NICS and there is a commitment to continue the progress made to date.

At this point in time it is not envisaged that a significant number of staff will be required to relocate to Belfast in advance of the creation of GOCO. However, staff who are required to relocate to Belfast, or to any other location across Northern Ireland, will be entitled to the full range of relocation packages, including excess fares allowance or removal expenses, inline with the provisions of the NICS Staff Handbook.