The petition of staff of Annesley DWP office, and their families,
Declares that the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) are proposing to close Annesley DWP office within the next year (2017/18); further that the DWP are proposing to do this without consideration of the potential loss of 100 plus jobs by compulsory redundancies; further that there has been no consideration of the disproportionate impact on those who work at Annesley by not conducting an Equality Impact Assessment; and further that there has been no consideration of the economic hit on the area because the closure could mean a loss of £1 million and this loss will inevitably impact on a number of businesses in the area.
The petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to ensure that Annesley DWP office is kept open, so that there are no job losses.
And the petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Gloria De Piero, Official Report, 28 March 2017; Vol. 624, c. 220.]
Observations from the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (Damian Green):
On 31 March 2018 DWP’s PFI PRIME (Private Resource Initiative for the Management of the Estate) contract with Telereal Trillium expires. This 20 year contract covers the majority of DWP’s current property portfolio of over 900 sites including Waterfront House, Annesley. This has given us a unique opportunity to review which offices we will need in the future, taking account of the increased use of our online services, the impact of Universal Credit and the anticipated demand on our services.
Waterfront House is a small back-of-house processing office currently housing 131 highly skilled and dedicated staff who deliver important services to the vulnerable and those in need. The site is currently 28% underutilised based on the number of full time equivalent staff.
We have a clear set of requirements for our future back-of-house estate which focuses on larger, high quality offices supporting new ways of working and enabling increased use of digital services. While our colleagues at Waterfront House are delivering important services for customers across the UK, the building itself, being small, does not meet our strategic requirements.
We carefully considered the wider impacts on the local community that this proposal, which is part of the department’s continued drive to deliver public services in more innovative and cost effective ways, would have. However, while we fully understand and appreciate the potential local impact of this proposal, we must ensure that the estate from which we operate continues to meet the changing needs of our business and our claimants while delivering value for money for the taxpayer.
We would also add that the back-of-house services undertaken at Waterfront House are not specifically linked to claims made by people in the surrounding area and is part of a national network of processing sites. Therefore, there would be no impact on face to face services to claimants as a result of this proposal.
While we appreciate that this is an unsettling time for our colleagues, we are fully committed to supporting them. Our first priority is our people and the need to minimise the risk of redundancies. We will be identifying options for relocation in the local area, to other DWP offices and other Government Departments within Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire.
Our track record on previous redeployments suggests that we will be able to relocate or offer alternative roles to the vast majority of those potentially affected. However, we do recognise that in a small number of cases relocation and redeployment will not be reasonable or achievable and exits may be required.
With regards to undertaking an Equality Analysis, throughout the development of these proposals, the Department has been mindful of its duties under section 149 of the Equality Act 2010. Consideration of the potential impact on colleagues and customers has been informed by statistical analysis of population data, local knowledge and consultation. The consultation, including a recently completed Equality Analysis, is being undertaken with colleagues and trade unions to consider any changes with those who may be impacted by future proposals to discuss their individual circumstances.
In addition to gathering information about their personal circumstances and individual needs such as caring responsibilities, these discussions also provide an important opportunity to discuss where people can travel to and potential travel costs they may incur.
Should the final decision be to proceed with the proposal, colleagues will, depending on their employment terms and conditions, have access to assistance under the department’s excess fares policy.
We would also point out that DWP will continue to be a very significant employer in Nottinghamshire with excellent opportunities in both jobcentres and back-of-house functions.