PCS DWP BOLTON & BURY

NEWS 2022

 

4 August 2022 | Check your PCS personal contact details to enter prize draw
Every 2 weeks over the summer we are holding a prize draw in each PCS region and nation for all members who sign into their PCS Digital account and check their personal contact details.

Ahead of our national industrial action ballot on pay, pensions, jobs and redundancy pay in September, we need all members in the civil service and related areas to get ballot-ready by updating the contact details we hold for you on our membership database through PCS Digital.

You can only vote in this national postal ballot if you have given us a personal postal address.

Even if you are not in the ballot you could still win a prize simply by registering for PCS Digital, or if you are already registered updating your personal contact details.

To have your say in the ballot, make sure all your personal information is up to date, including:

Your name
Personal email address
Postal address (Do not use your workplace address)
Mobile number
Grade (or grade equivalent)
Current employer
Workplace.

Not registered?
If you haven’t registered for PCS Digital all you need to do on the online form is enter your surname, your first name and then your PCS membership number, which has 7 digits and starts with a P (you'll find it on any emails you've had from us).

Read the online guide.
Once you are registered you will receive your postal ballot so you can have your say on plans for industrial action to get you the pay and pension you deserve.
Prizes

If you have logged into your PCS Digital account you will automatically be entered into the prize draw and could win one of the following prizes:

First prize: £250,
Second prize: 2x£150
Third prize: 5x£50.

Draws are due to take place on:

12 August
26 August
9 September.

Not a PCS member? Join online.

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3 August 2022 | Thousands use PCS cost-of-living calculator
More than 2,000 people have shown their anger about the Tory cost-of-living crisis and indicated a determination to fight for decent pay, more jobs and better services by using our calculator to show how the government is depriving them of thousands

Lots of members have shared their losses and comments since we launched the calculator on Friday. Use the calculator to find out how much you are missing out on each year.

Members can input their salary and monthly outgoings into the calculator to find out how much they are missing out on this year.

For example, if your salary is £23,000 the total amount you will lose out on this year will be a staggering £2,511.09.

Members shared their feelings after reading their results.

One member who said their partner has long-term health issues and feels the cold even in summer said: “He put the heating on this morning. I could have wept.”

Another member with years of experience commented: “With our pay remit set at a measly 2% this is not going to pay our bills. We need a 10% pay rise just to keep up with prices. It's a kick in the teeth having delivered during Covid.”

Just think what a difference that money you have lost would make to you. That is why it is vital all members get ready for our national ballot for industrial action on pay, jobs and pensions next month by logging into PCS Digital and updating the personal details we hold for you.

You can only vote in this national postal ballot if you have given us a personal postal address.

Use our calculator to work out how much you will be missing out on and then get active in the PCS campaign for decent pay, more jobs and better services.

We would like to know how members have been affected by the cost-of-living crisis, which you can share through our cost-of-living survey and by emailing your story to editor@pcs.org.uk
Join PCS

Do you work in the UK Civil Service? Are you frustrated by the government's plans for your job and pay? Join PCS today, get active and help fight the cuts and achieve decent pay.

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2 August 2022 | PCS welcomes Liz Truss’s U-turn on public sector pay
The Conservative leadership candidate yesterday announced plans to introduce regional pay boards, effectively ensuring workers outside London would see their pay cut.

But after criticism from trade unions and some Tory MPs, she today scrapped the plans.

PCS General Secretary Mark Serwotka said: "Liz Truss's U-turn, whilst welcome, shows her attacks on the civil service to be driven by ideology alone. We call on her now to rethink government plans to cut jobs, pay, pensions and redundancy payments in the civil service. Civil servants should be treated with respect, not as pawns in a political game."

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2 August 2022 | PCS will fight against Truss war on Whitehall
The “war on Whitehall” proposed by Tory leadership front-runner Liz Truss, which includes plans to cut pay, jobs and holiday, will be opposed every step of the way, says PCS General Secretary Mark Serwotka.

The foreign secretary has now rowed back on her plans to cut regional pay for public sector workers but remains committed to her other attacks on the civil service and public sector.

The foreign secretary last night revealed plans to cut pay for public sector workers – including teachers and nurses – outside the South East in a bid to save £11 billion.

In her economically illiterate plan, Truss initially promised to save up to £8.8bn annually by “adjusting” officials’ salaries to match living costs in the areas where they work. Despite civil servants having had below-inflation pay increases for over a decade and facing an ongoing cost-of-living crisis.

But aides were forced to amend the claim after experts at the Institute for Government pointed out that the target was almost as much as the total annual civil service pay bill of around £9bn.

And, the Independent reported that she plans to save at least another £2bn by placing a 25-day cap on the average civil servant’s annual leave, bringing it down from the current 27 days and in line with private sector averages.

She also promised to abolish 326 posts devoted to promoting diversity and inclusion within civil service ranks, at a saving of up to £12m.

PCS General Secretary Mark Serwotka said: "If Liz Truss is elected, and if she tries to go ahead with these proposals, she'll face opposition every step of the way. Civil servants are not a political tool to be used and abused for one person's ambition; they are the hard-working people who keep the country running, day in day out, and they deserve respect."

The government has already announced plans to cut 91,000 civil service jobs over the next 3 years.

It is vital all members get ready for our national ballot for industrial action on pay, jobs and pensions in September by logging into PCS Digital and updating the personal details we hold for you.

You can only vote in this national postal ballot if you have given us a personal postal address.

Use our cost-of-living calculator to work out how much you will be missing out on and then get active in the PCS campaign for decent pay, more jobs and better services.

We would like to know how members have been affected by the cost-of-living crisis, which you can share through our cost-of-living survey and by emailing your story to editor@pcs.org.uk
Join PCS

Do you work in the UK Civil Service? Are you frustrated by the government's plans for your job and pay? Join PCS today, get active and help fight the cuts and achieve decent pay.

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29 July 2022 | DWP group conference report
Conference is the sovereign body of the union. Every year (with the exception of 2020 due to covid-19 lockdown restrictions) branches get together at both annual delegate conference and group conference, to set the union’s agenda for the coming year.

The process begins with your branch AGM, where ordinary members can put forward motions about issues that concern them. Branches elect delegates to represent them at conference. The branch then submits any motions agreed by the AGM for inclusion on the conference agendas. Each conference has a standing orders committee (SOC), elected by conference block vote, that meets following the closing date for submitting motions, and agrees the provisional conference agenda (SOC1). SOC1 is then publicised, and branches hold mandating meetings, where members discuss the motions and instruct their delegates how to vote. Those meetings are also for proposing emergency motions to submit for inclusion on a supplementary agenda, known as SOC2. An emergency motion is only accepted if it covers an issue not known about on the original closing date for submission of motions.

For the first time since 2019 PCS was able to hold face-to-face conferences this year. As a result, DWP group conference took place at the Brighton Conference Centre on Monday 23 and the morning of Tuesday 24 May.

Ongoing covid concerns, along with practicalities making it impossible to offer hybrid group conferences, meant reduced attendance to some extent. Around 70 of the 90 DWP branches were represented, with just under 130 delegates attending. Nevertheless, there was a healthy level of debate, with several delegates speaking at conference for the first time.

Conference activity began on the Sunday immediately before conference. Many delegates arrived in Brighton to register and collect delegate packs, the SOC met with branches to discuss reference back requests and produce SOC3 (the final SOC document), and the GEC met twice to consider the impact of SOC2 and then SOC3. Trainee delegates also met on Sunday evening, to be welcomed to conference and given a rundown on how conference works.

On the Monday morning, group president Martin Cavanagh formally welcomed delegates and conference adopted Standing Orders. The president then addressed conference before the usual presentation of the annual report and treasurer’s report.

We then debated the various motions, covering a wide range of issues like pay, staffing, equality, and conditions of service, with instructions to the GEC on how to take forward the aims and demands of members. In total 41 motions were discussed. 37 were carried, with a further one remitted to the GEC. A record of conference decisions was distributed to branches as DWP/BB/054/22, and the GEC will now implement the carried motions over the twelve months following conference.

All members are encouraged to participate in the union’s decision making process. You can do this by attending members’ meetings, particularly your AGM and mandating meeting, and have your say on the issues that you think PCS should be concentrating on. Any member wanting to get more involved, or who is interested in seeing first-hand or playing an active part in this process, should discuss this with their branch officers and consider standing as a delegate, or trainee delegate, to conference next year.

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July 2022 | PCS Response to the Permanent Secretary’s statement on the DWP Headcount Challenge
DWP/MB/68/22 - All members in DWP and GEC

The Prime Minister made a statement to Civil Servants on 29th May that the Civil Service should cut staffing back to 2016 levels which has been estimated at 91,000 job cuts. The DWP alongside other Government Departments was required to respond by illustrating scenarios for cuts of 20%, 30% and 40% of staffing levels despite only recently having agreed plans with the government as part of the 3-year spending review that suggested little change in staffing levels.

In his message to staff today the Permanent Secretary has stated “In line with the process, we have now submitted several initial planning options that could help us play our part in this challenge.” Presumably these options will include how DWP would meet the well documented ask to cut staffing by 20%, 30% or 40%.

PCS rejects job cuts
PCS completely rejects the idea that jobs need to be cut in the Civil Service and particularly in the DWP. As a Government Department the DWP deals with the most vulnerable people in society. When there is a cost-of-living crisis DWP services are required more than ever. With the continuation of the war in Ukraine alongside other global issues, financial institutions and economic forecasters are predicting further economic misery that is likely to result in a deep recession. It would be madness to cut jobs in the Government Department whose purpose is to support unemployed people and those more economically vulnerable.

The DWP GEC will work with the national union to respond to the impact of these cuts, but in the meantime will continue to build our Jobs, Services and Communities Campaign working with branches and engaging with members.

PCS will fight privatisation
PCS will also fight any attempts to meet the government cuts by privatisation or outsourcing DWP services.

Slap in the face for dedicated Civil Service workers
PCS members in DWP rightly feel that they are being made to pay the price for the cost-of-living crisis and the pandemic. Not only are they having well below inflation pay rises imposed upon them, but now face having thousands of their jobs slashed.

PCS received an unprecedented response to the Prime Minister’s announcement on 29th May.

One member said “I think it is disgusting that so many civil servants in the DWP put their lives at risks by working in the office right through the Pandemic. Only to be told that thousands of jobs will be culled.

The waiting time for benefit payments will only lead to hardship for our customers who are already on the breadline due to the high cost of living.”

Another said “I feel like I have been slapped in the face for all the hard work myself and my colleagues put in during the pandemic. If it had not been for the dedication of thousands of Civil Servants like me and my colleagues, there would have been many thousands of families and vulnerable people left without benefits payments facing eviction and hunger.”

Another said “After years of austerity, derisory pay freezes and laughable minimum increases followed by a monumental effort all round by all of us to help the country through the pandemic we are to be rewarded with an insulting pay rise offer during the biggest cost of living crises for decades with the good news that it is we who are to blame and as such our jobs are to be eroded and our communities are to suffer for decades”

Defend jobs, services and communities
PCS is determined to fight to defend all DWP jobs, the services our members provide on behalf of the communities in which they live and work.

Make sure you update your records so that we can keep in touch with you.
You can update them at PCS Digital.

Please also ask colleagues who are not yet members of PCS to follow the link to join PCS

Martin Cavanagh, PCS DWP Group President
Mark Page, PCS Industrial Officer

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23 June 2022 | COVID-19: Additional steps to support returning to the workplace & colleagues who are at higher risk
DWP/MB/066/22 To: All Members and GEC

PCS demands safety and equality
PCS is continuing to demand improved guidance from DWP for safety and equality at work for all members. PCS is especially concerned that members should not be expected to return to office working when they are at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19.

Work from home if you can
GOV.UK COVID-19 guidance for England, for people whose immune system means they are at higher risk, was updated on 16 June 2022, and includes support for working from home:
This guidance includes:

• The success of the coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccination programme has meant that the requirement for shielding and identifying people as clinically extremely vulnerable (CEV) is no longer necessary. However, there remains a smaller number of people whose immune system means they are at higher risk of serious illness from COVID-19, despite vaccination.

• If it feels right for you, work from home if you can. If you cannot work from home, speak to your employer about what arrangements they can make to reduce your risk. It may be that you are entitled to a Reasonable Adjustment under the Equality Act.

GOV.WALES guidance also advises: You should continue to work from home if possible
https://gov.wales/guidance-protecting-people-defined-medical-grounds-clinically-extremely-vulnerable-coronavirus

GOV.SCOT guidance provides similar guidance for immunosuppressed people:
https://www.gov.scot/publications/covid-highest-risk/pages/guidance-for-immunosuppressed-people/

DWP additional steps to support returning to the workplace
DWP guidance for Additional Support for Colleagues Unable to Return to the Workplace was last updated 13/05/22 to include 5 Steps for Line Managers when considering cases where individuals have not returned to their workplace.

This DWP guidance states:
Following initial one-to-one conversations regarding a return to the workplace, some colleagues may still be feeling anxious about returning or experiencing barriers to coming into their workplace. When holding conversations with colleagues about returning, it’s important for these to be compassionate, empathetic, and supportive, ensuring that the DWP Values remain at the heart of everything we do. Managers are expected to make balanced decisions that consider individual circumstances throughout, whilst balancing these with the needs of the business and continuing to follow government guidance.

But additional Steps for Managers to consider now include Step 4 where a Manager may issue an instruction to return to the workplace. Guidance

PCS advice for members
If you were previously considered clinically extremely vulnerable from COVID you may have a disability which gives DWP a statutory duty to make working from home a reasonable adjustment under the Equality Act 2010 (section 20).

A 'reasonable adjustment' is a change that must be made (or continue to be made), when reasonable, to remove or reduce a disadvantage related to an employee's disability when doing their job.

Should you be given an instruction to return to your office you should raise a grievance against this decision. DWP ‘Flow Chart’ guidance tells managers that the grievance should be resolved before any further action is taken.
Guidance

Contact your local PCS Representative for advice, support, and representation. PCS guidance for Representatives includes PCS Briefing DWP/BB/097/21 for advice on policy and law for DWP policies for working from home.

Local PCS representatives should report cases to the PCS Response Team where a member, whose immune system means they are at higher risk, is instructed to return to their workplace quoting the PCS Briefing Number above responseteam@pcs.org.uk

Members with urgent enquiries may also contact responseteam@pcs.org.uk quoting the PCS Briefing Number above.

PCS continue to hold the safety of our members as our highest priority. If you know of non-members that will benefit from joining PCS, please point them to the PCS website to join online:
https://www.pcs.org.uk/joining

David Burke, Group Assistant Secretary
Mark Page, Industrial Officer

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17.06.22 ! RMT strike action, on 21st, 23rd, 25th June 2022

Greater Manchester District Briefing for All members
Bolton & Bury ● Greater Manchester ● Stockport & Tame Valley ● Wigan Area

All members across the District will likely be aware of the impending strike action called by the RMT union across 13 rail companies, Network rail and London Underground for certain dates next week. This is the result of railway companies imposing a pay freeze for all rail workers and of Network Rail planning to cut 2,500 jobs which union members view as “safety critical” on our railways.

Efforts by the union to negotiate a deal have been frustrated by the refusal of the bosses to be serious when it comes to protecting the living standards of their workforce or the safety of passengers. As matters stand right now, the strike will go ahead and it is likely that there will be minimal trains running anywhere on the railway networks on Tuesday 21st, Thursday 23rd and Saturday 25th June.

This will potentially have a huge impact on DWP staff.

Be aware of the “Major Disruption to Travel” policy
The line taken by national DWP management is that all staff should attempt to get to work as normal on the days of the RMT strike. DWP has a policy for just such a contingency as this, available on the intranet.

The options available to support those whose journey to work is affected include:

• Changing the timing of the journey to or from work if that will help
• Car-sharing or lifts from colleagues
• Walking to work if less than one hour’s walking distance, if safe to do so
• Working from alternative premises, where this is part of the business contingency plans and is safe – this must also be Covid-safe.
• Working from home
• Staff can request to take flexi leave or annual leave, subject to the usual percentages. Staff cannot be required to do this.
• Managers should consider flexi credits for delays in travel time and for inability to actually reach the usual workplace.

Support available for those with caring responsibilities
For those who are unable to attend work due to the strikes because schools are closed or because of the unavailability of other caring arrangements, special leave should be considered by managers. Union reps across the district will be on hand to advise and support staff and managers charged with making these decisions.

Mike Hepworth - Secretary, Bolton and Bury
Craig Worswick - Secretary, Greater Manchester
Alan Loy - Secretary, Stockport & Tame Valley
Dave Semple - Secretary, Wigan Area

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16th June 2022 | DWP announces the launch of a Voluntary Redundancy Scheme
DWP/MB/065/22 - All members in DWP and GEC

On 17 March 2022 the DWP announced plans for mass office closures. The Department have claimed that this is so they can have fewer “better and greener buildings". They also claim that the office closures are not about reducing headcount or cutting jobs.

This morning the Department has summoned staff at risk of redundancy to meetings where they have been told that a Voluntary Redundancy scheme is being launched from today. The scheme only covers those at risk of redundancy as a result of the office closure programme following 1-2-1 interviews.

In the region of 1,000 members of staff are currently at risk of redundancy in 25 of the 29 sites where 1-2-1s have been completed. There are a further 14 sites that have yet to begin the 1-2-1 process, which PCS believes could identify similar additional numbers of staff at risk.

PCS Opposes the Voluntary Redundancy Scheme launch
PCS is fundamentally opposed the launch of the VR Scheme. We do not accept the DWP rationale for closing these offices and do not accept enough time has been given to identifying redeployment opportunities for members whose offices are closing.

PCS have formally demanded that DWP review their plans in light of increasing workloads and backlogs across many lines of business. DWP response has been merely to re-state their "strategy" of moving to fewer larger buildings.

What this means for members offered VR
As a result of the Government imposing worse redundancy terms for Civil Servants in 2010, Compulsory Redundancy terms are now far worse for most people than Voluntary Redundancy. As a result members may feel forced to accept the more generous VR scheme rather than gamble they end up having to take Compulsory Redundancy on considerably worse terms later on.

Timeline for the scheme
The timeline for the scheme is as follows:

● Launch 16 June to 6 July 2022
● VR offers 14 September to 7 October 2022
● Queries resolved 7 October to 31 October 2022
● Notice 1 November 2022 to 31 January 2023
● Last day of Service 31 January 2023

PCS response
PCS will continue to fight for no jobs to be lost in the communities that they are currently in by voluntary redundancy or otherwise. We will use all means at our disposal including community campaigns, working with parliamentarians and local politicians, service user groups and anyone looking to support the communities these offices earmarked for closure are in and the services they offer. PCS will be consulting our members regarding any campaigns and testing members mood to fight these closures.

FTA Permanency
Whilst PCS has been successful in persuading the DWP to make a significant majority of the FTA EOs permanent, including presenting a Collective Appeal, we continue to make progress in negotiations about the remaining FTAs yet to be made permanent.

In the meantime PCS have included our ongoing demand for permanency in our campaign and a further briefing will be issued in due course.

What you can do
You can help support our campaign for Jobs, Services and Communities by singing our petition and writing to your MP.
Sign our petition to stop the DWP office closure scandal.
Email your MP today to urge them to support our campaign.

The more of us there the stronger we are. Please recruit your colleagues who are not yet PCS members by sharing the link below.
Membership application form

Martin Cavanagh - PCS DWP Group President
Mark Page - PCS Industrial Officer

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14th June 2022 | DWP BOLTON PROCESSING SITE RELOCATION

Good afternoon members,

Many of you will be having 1 2 1’s soon as regards the new office and you will be going through mobility clauses and such other issues.

There is guidance on this. For those covered by Employee Deal you can be required to attend an office up to 90 minutes away by public transport; although that may be different if you are an AA (although we only have one AA in the building).

For those on legacy contracts and if you are below EO grade then the mobility clause is 60 minutes by public transport. If you are outside of that DWP have a duty to try and fine an office nearer to you or consider alternatives such as contractual homeworking as a reasonable adjustment or paying for taxi’s under the access to work scheme; some staff have this as a reasonable adjustment at present.

Therefore, as an example, if the walk from Bolton Bus station to Bark Street takes you 15 minutes walking rather than 5 minutes to the office, and you then have a 70 minute journey, DWP could pay for a taxi from the bus station to Bark Street. The case for this becomes much firmer if you have a disability and are covered by the Equality Act 2010.

If no alternatives, such as a reasonable adjustments, or re-deployment is available (including to another government department) within your mobility clause, then DWP would have to make you surplus and offer redundancy terms.

If you have any queries email the TU inbox, or message a rep and we can advise you on your particular case.

The guidance on reasonable adjustments, contractual homeworking, re-deployment and compulsory transfers, and mobility clauses is included below:

Mobility Policy | DWP Intranet

https://intranet.dwp.gov.uk/page/workplace-adjustment-passport

Workplace Adjustments | DWP Intranet

Workforce Management Procedures | DWP Intranet

https://intranet.dwp.gov.uk/policy/contractual-home-working-procedures

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13 June 2022 | PCS builds political pressure on DWP to reverse job cuts decisions
All members in DWP and GEC - DWP/MB/061/22   

PCS met with MPs on 8th June to update them on DWP office closures and job cuts.
Since we met with MPs in March following the announcement of over 40 DWP office closures, we have consistently warned that these would result in significant redundancies. The speed at which DWP has moved to issue "at risk of redundancy" letters supports our concerns that jobs will be lost, with over a thousand staff in total likely to be at risk.

MPs have been told by the minister that the employer is looking to avoid redundancies by finding redeployment elsewhere in DWP or in other government departments. However, members’ chances of redeployment are likely to be significantly reduced as a result of the announcement of 91,000 civil service job cuts.

How you can get involved
You can support the campaign by emailing your MP and signing the petition to stop closures and defend jobs.

The more members we have the stronger we will be. Please ask your colleagues who are not already PCS members to JOIN your union.

FTA Permanency
We have told MPs that workload pressures mean that DWP needs more staff, not less. The situation will be worsened if DWP goes ahead with plans to let go several thousand fixed-term appointees after a permanency exercise resulted in many FTA staff not being given permanent contracts.

PCS has been involved in productive discussions with the DWP where we have continued to push our view that the Department needs to make every single FTA permanent if it is to avoid a staffing crisis. We believe that the pressure that we have been putting on the Department as well as the political pressure may result in a better outcome for FTAs than currently planned.

Impact of job cuts on communities
Many members will struggle to relocate to other offices and are therefore being put at risk. This was a point highlighted by Dame Rosie Winterton MP, who has met with the local branch campaigning to stop jobs being moved out of Doncaster. Dame Rosie has since met with the DWP Minister to raise concerns about the impact losing these jobs will have on the local economy and is arguing that it goes against the government’s so-called levelling up agenda. 

MPs have been raising our concerns in parliament. Grahame Morris raised the closure of Seaham processing site. He highlighted that many closures are in areas of economic deprivation that cannot afford to lose good quality public sector jobs.

PCS is continuing to engage with MPs both at national level through our cross-party PCS parliamentary group and at local level with constituency MPs.

Martin Cavanagh, PCS DWP Group President
Ian Pope, PCS DWP Vice President
Angela Grant, PCS DWP Vice President                                               
Mark Page
, PCS Industrial Officer

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12 June 2022 | PCS members are tax payers, too

The prime minister’s statement to civil servants claimed that 91,000 job losses are needed for the benefit of “the taxpayer”.

In May the prime minister announced 91,000 job cuts across the civil service, returning it to 2016 staffing levels. In a letter sent to all civil servants last week, Boris Johnson said, “I profoundly believe that the public service you provide is a great and noble calling, but we must also remember that every penny of it is paid for by the taxpayer. That money is not the government’s money, it’s the people’s money - hard-earned pounds that we share a moral duty to spend judiciously.”

PCS members have been responding angrily to his statement.

National crisis
“We care about the state of the country and really care about our customers, but we are also taxpayers, which is not acknowledged, and as tax payers we are also entitled to the same protection and support as everyone else.

“People are starving, desperate and spiralling into debt. People are having to steal food to stay alive. The healthcare system is in a state of collapse and human beings are suffering waiting for a doctor or an operation. Some of our elderly citizens will die before getting the medical help they need.

“This is bigger than the civil service, this is a national crisis and we all need protecting from any more damage from this ‘government’. Mental health is in crisis as well as physical health. The nation needs kindness and compassion, understanding and patience, not the oppressive regime inflicted upon us.”

Knock-on effect of job losses
“If I was unlucky enough to be made redundant like so many others, how is that helping the cost of living crisis? If I was unable to pay my mortgage I would lose my house, I would then need to claim UC to give me money for rent, food and bills. I would be asking the tax payer to fund my life, increasing the amount the government pays out by probably more than my current salary.”

Stabbed in the back
“I’m sick of the way we are constantly belittled and stabbed in the back by those who feign appreciation of our efforts. We are constantly told that the taxpayer expects this and that. Boris needs reminding that we are ALL taxpayers.”

Show the government what you think by joining the TUC’s We Demand Better march and rally in London on Saturday 18 June.

Not yet a PCS member? Join online now for increased security at work.

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10 June 2022 | Why we’re going to Demand Better in London
PCS members have been explaining why they are joining the TUC’s We Demand Better march and rally in London on 18 June.

On Saturday 18 June the TUC is holding a march and rally in central London to tell the government that we demand better.

The march demands better pay and real action on the cost-of-living crisis and union members are encouraged to bring flags, banners and placards with their messages for the government.

Natalie, who works for the DWP in Birmingham said, "We can complain all day long about the changes the government have put in place. But if we're not willing to take action then great things will never be achieved. That's why I've decided to join the march in London on 18th June."

Mazima, who will also be getting the free PCS coach to London from Birmingham said, “I decided to come because it’s our chance to be seen and heard. With the cost of living rising so high it’s a struggle to cope financially every month; the government needs to help us."

Tammy, who will be travelling down from Blackpool said, “I am deeply frustrated and disheartened by the government response to the cost of living and also making civil servants the target for their cost cutting. This government is so out of touch. The civil service kept the country going in the pandemic and we have all worked extensively and are still under pressure now. Enough is enough.”

PCS is organising transport to London on 18 June for PCS members and their families. For details see our events page.

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10 June 2022 | PCS members condemn Boris Johnson’s job cuts plans

Members brand the decision to cut 91,00 jobs across the civil service as despicable and deplorable.

In May the prime minister announced 91,000 job cuts across the civil service, returning it to 2016 staffing levels. PCS members have been telling us how the announcement has made them feel, coming on top of years of pay restraint and unlawful pension deductions.

Worthless and undervalued
“When they needed us to risk our lives during the pandemic we were “key workers” now there is yet another financial crisis it is civil servants who will again have to pay the price ……..the often quoted “we are all in this together” ignored when an independent pay commission recommends a large pay rise for MPs. We can’t turn it down they said, it’s been decided by an independent body. But they can choose to ignore it when other independent bodies recommend increases for public servants, they can ignore it when courts decide they are taking too much off us in pension contributions and refuse to pay it back.”

“I have never been less proud to work for the civil service, I am embarrassed about the amount I am paid, it has affected my self esteem to the point where I feel worthless and undervalued, while all the time being told by managers and permanent secretaries that they value my work and they know I work hard. Can those statements pay my ever increasing bills, will they put fuel in my car?”

PCS members are taxpayers, too
“I find it despicable and deplorable for him [the prime minister] to say that the civil service must be cut by 91,000, to bear the brunt of the government's mishandling of a health crisis and the economy.

“Does he not know, that to "shed" 91,000 jobs will do even greater damage to the economy, the health service, put more children in poverty?... WE are taxpayers, WE are earning and paying taxes, keeping him in a job, paying his wages, paying towards the upkeep of the country that he and his Chancellor have mismanaged.”

Struggling to cope
“In these troubling times, with the cost of living crisis and civil service pay stagnating over the last 12 years, my wife (also a civil servant) and I are really struggling to cope. Eating is becoming a luxury. …… I am suffering with stress and anxiety, and with the added pressure of being threatened with being one of the potential 91000 members of staff to lose our jobs, I don’t really know how I’m going to cope any longer.”

Show the government what you think by joining the TUC’s We Demand Better march and rally in London on Saturday 18 June.

Not yet a PCS member? Join online now for increased security at work.

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9 June 2022 | Building support for our DWP jobs campaign in Parliament

PCS met with MPs yesterday (8) to update them on DWP office closures and job cuts.

Since we met with MPs in March following the announcement of over 40 DWP office closures, we have consistently warned that these would result in significant redundancies. The speed at which DWP has moved to issue "at risk of redundancy" letters supports our concerns that jobs will be lost.

MPs have been told by the minister that the employer is looking to avoid redundancies by finding redeployment elsewhere in DWP or in other government departments. However, members’ chances of redeployment are being significantly reduced because of a DWP recruitment freeze and the announcement of 91,000 civil service job cuts.

We have told MPs that workload pressures mean that DWP needs more staff, not less. The situation will be worsened if DWP goes ahead with plans to let go several thousand fixed-term appointees after a permanency exercise resulted in many fixed-term appointment staff not being given permanent contracts.

Many members will struggle to relocate to other offices and are therefore being put at risk. This was a point highlighted by Dame Rosie Winterton MP, who has met with the local branch campaigning to stop jobs being moved out of Doncaster. Dame Rosie has since met with the DWP Minister to raise concerns about the impact losing these jobs will have on the local economy and is arguing that it goes against the government’s so-called levelling up agenda.

MPs have been raising our concerns in parliament. Grahame Morris raised the closure of Seaham processing site. He highlighted that many closures are in areas of economic deprivation that cannot afford to lose good quality public sector jobs.

PCS is continuing to engage with MPs both at national level through our cross-party PCS parliamentary group and at local level with constituency MPs.

You can support the campaign by emailing your MP and signing the petition to stop closures and defend jobs.

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8 June 2022 | PCS members respond to Boris Johnson’s job cuts statement

Members have expressed their anger, shock and disappointment at the announcement of 91,000 job cuts across the civil service.

In May the prime minister announced 91,000 job cuts across the civil service, returning it to 2016 staffing levels. Last week he added insult to injury by sending an email to staff, and posting a statement on department intranets, which thanked civil servants and praised their “highest standards of public service” but then went on to try to justify the job cuts.

Saddened but unsurprised
One DWP member said, “I am extremely saddened, but unsurprised. I have worked in DWP for 14 years and over that time I have seen employee rights, pensions and redundancy packages slashed in the name of cost effectiveness.”

Illogical decision
Another member questioned Boris’s claim that less staff are needed and that the cuts are in the public interest, saying, “This decision is illogical because it is clear workloads are significantly increasing and that by cutting staff it will create massive delays to the public in accessing essential government services. I also believe they are going to put a good percentage of the 91000 people they plan to fire in poverty.”

Pensions and redundancy terms
One member referred to the government’s plans to cut the Civil Service Compensation Scheme by 33%, and the fact that it has not resolved the issue regarding the unlawful overpayments that members have been making to the pension scheme.

They said, “It feels like the government are aggressively attacking the staff as I also note they are desperately trying to reduce the redundancy package they offer, which has only so far been delayed by PCS court action. Furthermore their respect of staff is shown in the fact a recent court ruling has told them their attack on pensions was unlawful however they have refused to fix this issue.”

Disgrace
Another member echoed general secretary Mark Serwotka’s recent branding of the prime minister as a “disgrace”, saying, “An absolute disgrace. This prime minister is not fit to wipe my shoes let alone run the country. How many times can he get away with blatant lies, prospering his friends and colleagues at the expense of the working classes?”

Show the government what you think by joining the TUC’s We Demand Better march and rally in London on Saturday 18 June.

Not yet a PCS member? Join online now for increased security at work.

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30 May 2022 | PCS Parliamentary Group request urgent consultation following announcement of the Departmental Plan

DWP/MB/060/22 to All members in DWP and GEC

The Chair of the PCS Parliamentary Group, Chris Stephens MP, has written on behalf of the Group to Therese Coffey, the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions to ask that she and the DWP urgently consult with PCS about the Departmental Plan.

PCS has also written separately to the Secretary of State and the Permanent Secretary to demand a meeting with them to discuss the plan.

PCS has already expressed concerns that Departmental Plan implies significant cuts in staffing over the coming years whilst the increasing the services that DWP staff are required to deliver.

The Minister of State for Brexit Opportunities and Government Efficiency in the Cabinet, Jacob Rees-Mogg has previously announced 91,000 job cuts across the Civil Service. PCS opposes these cuts and has also requested an urgent meeting with the DWP to discuss the implications that this announcement will have on DWP staffing.

Defend jobs, services and communities
PCS is determined to fight to defend all DWP jobs, the services our members provide on behalf of the communities in which they live and work.

Make sure you update your records so that we can keep in touch with you. You can update them at PCS Digital.

Please also ask colleagues who are not yet members of PCS to follow the link to JOIN PCS.

The DWP Group extends thanks to Chris Stephens and the PCS Parliamentary Group for their continued support for members in DWP. The full text of their letter letter is included below.

 

Martin Cavanagh                                                       Mark Page
PCS DWP Group President                            PCS Industrial Officer

Thérèse Coffey MP
Secretary of State for Work and Pensions
Department for Work and Pensions
Caxton House
6-12 Tothill Street
London
SW1H 9NA

27 May 2022

Dear Thérèse,

DWP Departmental Plan 2022 – 2025

I write as Chair of the PCS Parliamentary Group. Established in 2003, it currently comprises over 100 cross-party MPs and Peers, concerned for members of PCS (the Public and Commercial Services union) who work across government and related bodies. We were disturbed by reports that, without any prior and proper engagement with PCS, the new DWP Departmental Plan was presented yesterday to a small selection of staff.

Only the day before I had attended the union’s Annual Delegate Conference and was left in no doubt as to their determination to defend their jobs, the services they provide and the communities in which they live and work.

I understand that this Plan includes staff cuts of 12% over this three-year period and also suggests an increase in payments for Universal Credit, legacy benefits and pensions of 16%.  It  appears totally unrealistic – at a time of rising demand, with escalating energy costs, inflation, food and fuel poverty across Britain, exacerbated by the fallout from the Covid pandemic and impacts of Russia’s war in Ukraine – to expect less staff to do more work.

I would ask you to provide the Group with an immediate assurance that you will, albeit belatedly, now be inviting PCS to meet with you to begin a comprehensive consultation on the detail of the Plan, which will surely have massive implications for their members and the public they serve. I look forward to hearing from you and would be grateful, given the urgency of the situation, if you could respond by email to me and to Group Co-ordinator Richard Hanford (contact details below).

Yours sincerely,

Chris Stephens MP
Chair, PCS Parliamentary Group

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30 May 2022 | Prime Minister’s all staff message
DWP/MB/061/22  to All members in DWP and GEC

Yesterday a message from the Prime Minister Boris Johnson was posted on the Departmental intranet.

The Prime Minister’s message made it clear that Civil Servants should pay the price for the cost-of-living crisis with their jobs as part of the Government’s plans to slash Civil Service jobs by 91,000 and return staffing levels to what they were in 2016, with no assessment of what service is required by the public.

PCS General Secretary Mark Serwotka said in response “Plans to cut 91,000 civil service jobs must be abandoned and extra staff recruited as soon as possible to help deliver the vital services relied upon by so many.” This is never more true than in the DWP where there are plans to close 44 offices, end the contracts of thousands of staff on fixed term contracts whilst committing to deliver more benefits to claimants.

One member has already told us “It was ironic that I read the Prime Minister’s message as I was held in a queue for nearly an hour trying to speak to Pensions about my mother’s entitlement to my father’s state pension following his recent death. When I eventually got through, I was told it is currently taking 4-5 weeks to process these changes of circumstances due to a backlog.”

Please follow the link to PCS’s response to the Prime Ministers statement.
https://www.pcs.org.uk/news-events/news/prime-minister-branded-disgrace-he-emails-civil-servants-about-job-cuts

Tell us what you think about the PMs statement emailing from your personal email to dwp@pcs.org.uk

The more of us there are the better chance we have of defending ourselves against this barrage of attacks from the Government. If you know of colleagues who are not already PCS members, please ask them to JOIN by following the link.

You can also email your MP about civil service pay and the cost-of-living crisis and the impact of 91,000 job cuts on the civil service by following the E-ACTION LINK

Martin Cavanagh - PCS DWP Group President                                                     
Mark Page
- PCS Industrial Officer

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20 May 2022 | PCS 2022 pay claim – PCS meet management – national campaign steps up 
To all PCS members in DWP | DWP/MB/058/22 

Please copy to all union members

PCS have met DWP about our pay claim for 2022.
Our claim is for:

* a 10% increase
* £15 an hour for all staff
* a London weighting payment, added to consolidated pay, of at least £5,000 per annum, with no detriment to anybody currently getting more.
* 35 days annual leave

2% is an insult
The government have set a pay limit of 2% up to a maximum of 3%.

At the meeting PCS told management that 2% is an insult at a time when staff face a cost of living crisis with:

* Energy bills up over £1,000 a year
* National Insurance contributions increasing by 1.25%
* Shopping up 10%
* Universal Credit cut

We told them we need at least 10% to just stand still. We made it clear that unless they come up with a lot more money than we will be in a dispute.

Building for a national strike

Last month PCS members voted in a consultative ballot 90% in favour of our claim and for strike action to fight for 10%. Next week the union conference will vote on plans to campaign and get ready in the summer for a national all members strike ballot later this year for fair pay and to protect our pensions and the redundancy scheme.   

Ian Bartholomew    DWP Group Secretary                                  
Martin Cavanagh
   DWP Group President   

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19 May 2022 | FTA End of Contract Right of Appeal Cases:
You may provide  additional information up to the 31st May
To: All Members and GEC
| DWP/MB/057/22

Collective Appeal Process
Members who have submitted appeals against the end of their fixed term contract  because they believe the reason(s) for their dismissal to be unfair will have been informed that their appeal will be considered as a ‘Collective Appeal’ if their appeal is one of many with identical, or near identical, reasons for appeal that do not include a single issue that is specific to them as an individual. Collective Appeals are a procedural process under DWP guidance for How to Manage Fixed Term Appointments, paragraph 59: https://intranet.dwp.gov.uk/page/how-manage-fixed-term-appointments-ftas

DWP has confirmed that in cases where members who have submitted a reason for appeal that is specific to them as an individual their appeal, or this  part of their appeal, will be considered as an individual appeal.

Extension for members to add further information to their appeal
PCS raised concern that some members may not have understood that their appeal would be treated as a Collective Appeal and may have failed to include a specific issue of unfairness that has disadvantaged them as an individual. In response to this concern, DWP has agreed to allow an extension to the appeal process to allow individuals to provide additional information:

As we discussed and to clarify, any points in appeals specifically related to an individual circumstances i.e. personal issues about their scores, fair treatment, etc will continue to be separated out and considered individually. Any near identical points in the appeals will continue to be addressed collectively.

In order to give reasonable opportunity for colleagues to add further information to their appeal, to confirm that on this occasion I can extend the appeal deadline for these appeals and I will accept additional information received up to the 31st May.

This should be sent by email to eofta.endofcontractappeals@DWP.GOV.UK

It is important to emphasise that this is an opportunity for existing appellants to add personal appeal grounds and not to re-write or expand on the previous appeal that is already included in the collective.

PCS support and advice

You may contact your local PCS Representative to discuss this opportunity to provide additional information for your personal case.  PCS Briefing DWP/BB/044/22 provides guidance for PCS representatives on Fixed Term Appointments under employment law. This includes:

Employees working under fixed-term contracts are protected by the Fixed-Term Employees
(Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations 2002 which require that such employees are treated no less favourably than comparable permanent employees. A fixed-term employee has the right not to be treated less favourably than a comparable permanent employee:

* in relation to the terms of their contract
* by being subjected to any other detriment by any act,
* or deliberate failure to act, of their employer.

But the Court of Appeal, in the case of Department of Work and Pensions v Webley (2004), held that the non-renewal of a fixed term contract cannot in itself amount to less favourable treatment because it is the essence of such a contact that it comes to an end at the end of the fixed term: The termination of the contract is an inevitable consequence of it being for a fixed term.

The expiry of a fixed-term contract is treated as a dismissal under employment law but fixed-term employees, like other employees, only have the right to bring an unfair dismissal claim to the Employment Tribunal if they have been employed for two years or more when their employment ends.

Expiry of a fixed-term contract will not count towards dismissals for collective redundancy consultation purposes unless the contract is being terminated early by reason of redundancy. Fixed term employees must have at least two years’ service to qualify for redundancy rights.

Wrongful dismissal is a dismissal that is in breach of contract. It differs from unfair dismissal in that fairness is not relevant; the only consideration is whether or not a term of the contract has been breached. There is no requirement for at least two years’ service for a claim of wrongful dismissal to the Employment Tribunal.

Fixed-term employees who have been continuously employed for four years or more on a series of successive fixed-term contracts will automatically be treated as permanent employees (that is, employed under an indefinite contract), unless the continued use of a fixed-term contract can be objectively justified.

David Burke                                                                                      Mark Page
Group Assistant Secretary                                                              PCS Industrial Officer

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19 May 2022 |Everyone does not have to work on a Saturday or beyond 17:00!
Collective Agreement assurances and safeguards must be applied in individual cases
To: All Members in DWP | DWP/MB/056/22

Collective Agreement for the Employee Deal
This Briefing supports the proper application of the assurances and safeguards in the Collective Agreement https://intranet.dwp.gov.uk/policy/collective-agreement-employee-deal  for working on a Saturday or to a specific time beyond 17:00.  Key assurances under Collective Agreement 13(c) include:

(ii) not to fix more than one in five consecutive working days beyond 17:00, unless the employee chooses to do so;

(iii) not to fix more than one Saturday in four consecutive Saturdays, unless the employee chooses to do so;

These are safeguards not minimum requirements. Working Patterns Advice Q3 confirms that there is no requirement for every individual to do a minimum number of evening shifts per week or one in four Saturdays. This is because working pattern planning is about meeting staffing requirements at team level  as explained under Working Patterns Advice Q4.The focus on team level accepts individual contributions might differ due to personal preferences and /or circumstances. There are two other key assurances under Collective Agreement 13 (h) &13 (i):

(h) In managing regular working patterns, managers will be fully aware of and comply with the requirements of the Equality Act 2010 in respect of employees with protected characteristics (e.g. disability, religion/beliefs, age, pregnancy/maternity).

(i) Whether or not they are covered by the Equality Act 2010, for various reasons some employees may not be in a position to work certain hours or days over the six months. In these cases, managers must work constructively with colleagues to find alternative arrangements which enable the individual to combine meeting their personal or caring responsibilities with making a contribution to the team requirements. Such alternatives will be reviewed every six months.

DWP’s objective is to meet its staffing requirements at team level, accepting individual contributions can differ one from another; and in that context, DWP has agreed for various reasons some employees may not be in a position to work certain hours or days. In these cases, when individual employeeshave areasonable casenot to work to a specific time such as 8pm or work on a Saturday they should not be required to do so.

Treating everyone equally may be unfair
Acas guidance warns against requiring all employees to work late and this warning also apples to requiring all employees to work on Saturday. Treating everyone equally may be unfair and, in some cases, unlawful. The Acas guide, Sex discrimination: key points for the workplace”, on Part-time working and flexible working states, on page 22, that:

Employers and managers should avoid making assumptions when assessing requests and consider each one individually with regard to the business circumstances. This is to meet flexible working regulations and avoid sex discrimination claims. So, while female employees are often the main child carers, an employer should not assume a male employee is less likely to want flexibility for child care. For example, an employer which thinks that requests from men may be easier to turn down, or which prioritises requests from women, is likely to be discriminating against men. Instead, employers should look to handle requests consistently.

At the same time, working hours or patterns which clash with an employee’s child care responsibilities are more likely to affect women. For example, an employer’s requirement that all employees work until 6pm at least once a week could indirectly discriminate against female employees. If an employer believes there is a genuine business need for all employees to do this, it would have to be able to justify the rule as what the law terms ‘a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim’. An employer would also have to look at and introduce a way or ways to reduce or remove the discriminatory effect – for example, by providing child care support.

Independent Panels safeguard agreed assurances
The Collective Agreement introduced Independent Panels as a safeguard against perverse decisions. Failure to apply the assurances for working patterns, including part-year contracts, as intended under the Collective Agreement, which are not corrected under normal grievance and appeal procedures, can be submitted to an Independent Panel under paragraph 30 of the Collective Agreement by your local PCS Representative. 

PCS advice for members
If you are unable to work on a Saturday, or beyond 17:00, because of your caring responsibilities, or for any other reason covered by Collective Agreement 13(h) or 13(i) as detailed above, you should first discuss with your colleagues to find a team solution. If not resolved discuss the application of the Collective Agreement assurances, in your personal case, with your line manager. Line Managers are expected to recognise that everyone is not required to work on a Saturday, or to “certain hours” such as 6:30pm or 8pm, and to apply the assurances in the Collective Agreement for employees unable to do so.

Use the DWP Grievance and Appeal Procedure to resolve a disputed decision about your working hours or pattern: https://intranet.dwp.gov.uk/policy/grievance-and-issue-resolution-procedure A perverse Appeal decision can be submitted by your local PCS Representative for correction by the Independent Panel. Contact your local PCS Representative for advice, support and representation when you have a disagreement about the application of Collective Agreement assurances in your personal case.

David Burke                                                                                  Mark Page
Group Assistant Secretary                                                          PCS Industrial Officer

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18 May 2022 | PCS calls on government to rethink mass cuts which will worsen UK lives
A demonstrably failed economic strategy which will only worsen the lives of UK people, is how PCS General Secretary Mark Serwotka has described government plans to cut 1 in 5 civil service jobs.

PCS letters sent this week to minister for the Cabinet Office, Steve Barclay, and Cabinet Office permanent secretary Alex Chisholm, set out how the proposals to axe 91,000 jobs over 3 years, revealed by prime minister Boris Johnson in the media on Friday, would repeat terrible mistakes of the past. Mark wrote that “when mass job cuts have been announced and executed the consequences have been disastrous for public services in this country.”

He said that the cuts would be “seriously damaging to services to the public at a time when those services are struggling to cope with the demands of the pandemic and Brexit, as well as an economic downturn.” And described promises by the government to “build back better” after Covid as worthless.

Mark said making the announcement in the media displayed a “disgraceful lack of respect for civil servants.”

“It is a further example of the appalling treatment by the government of its own workforce when added to the derisory 2% pay increase at a time when many are struggling with the cost-of-living crisis,” he stated.

Greater resources needed

The letters highlighted that there is no detail of how these proposed cuts are to be delivered or when, simply an arbitrary figure announced that has no basis in reality.

Mark warned of repeating the mistakes of the past.

“In 2010, the then Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition embarked on a programme of austerity and the government attempted to make public sector workers pay the price – jobs were axed, pay was cut in real terms, pensions and redundancy rights were reduced and terms and conditions of employment were attacked. This was all done allegedly in the name of economic recovery,” he stated.

“The result has been over a decade of almost flatlining economic growth which is now set to turn into economic stagflation. Once again, the government is embarking on a demonstrably failed economic strategy which will only worsen the lives of the people of this country.”

Citing a whole plethora of government departments that are already under significant pressure to deliver vital public services, Mark said that “it is clear that the civil service needs greater resources, not Iess.”

Our annual delegate conference takes place next week when activists will consider our collective response to what Mark described as “the scandalous treatment of our members by this government.”

He concluded the letters by calling for urgent meetings with both men.

Our national executive committee met today to discuss the cuts and agreed an emergency motion, to be debated at our annual delegate conference next week, to build a campaign against the cuts and for increased resourcing to deliver adequate public services. The motion instructs the NEC to: “Use all means at our disposal to defend members’ jobs and public services, including industrial action when appropriate.”

Take action

Want to fight job cuts and campaign for better pay? Join PCS today.

If you are a member, get active in your union. Your first steps are signing up to go to our national conference in Brighton from 24-26 May and joining the TUC march in London on 18 June to call for a real pay rise.

Complete our campaign action to email your MP – which includes a model email which you can amend with extra information in your own words if you wish.
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18 May 2022 | Spiralling inflation latest reason to campaign for better pay

Today’s inflation figures - which show CPI inflation rising to 9% and the RPI measure to 11% - are a further reason for PCS members to get involved in our national campaign for a significant pay rise and for everyone to join the TUC demo on 18 June.

Thousands of PCS members are facing serious problems with paying energy bills, rent, mortgages and even buying basic food shopping.

For people across the UK, a real crisis is developing; poverty in the world’s fifth largest economy is growing.

The government should be increasing benefits and the minimum wage, subsidising energy bills, taxing the huge profits of energy companies and stopping the National Insurance rise. Instead they are doing nothing for working people and even holding down the pay increase for the civil service and related areas to 2%.

Decade of pay decline

Our members’ pay has been frozen and capped, and your living standards have fallen by around 20% in real terms in the last decade. The average PCS member is worse off by £2,300 a year since 2011.

Our consultative ballot in March delivered a huge yes vote to our demands on pay and pensions – a 10% rise and return of overpayments – and on members’ willingness to take action if negotiations do not deliver a fair deal.

Our annual delegate conference next week will debate whether to move to a statutory strike ballot. Hear how we can fight and win on pay at our conference fringe meeting, online and in Brighton, from 5.30pm on Monday (23).

Members will be joining hundreds of thousands of other workers in London on 18 June to demand that the government takes action over the cost-of-living crisis.

Assemble Portland Place – W1 from 10.30am 
March sets off 12pm
Rally at Parliament Square 1pm.

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18 May 2022 | Conference to debate emergency motion on strike action over cuts
PCS is to consider national strike action over government plans to cut 91,000 civil service job cuts.

Our national executive committee today submitted an emergency motion to next week’s annual delegate conference proposing a campaign to defend members’ jobs, which would including taking industrial action when appropriate.

PCS General Secretary Mark Serwotka said: “The civil service needs more staff, not less. We will defend every single job, not just on behalf of our hard-working members, but on behalf of every member of the public who relies on the services they provide every day.”

PCS set out its stall to protect the civil service by demanding the government fully consults with union officials about its plans, vowing to fight any compulsory redundancies and any attempts to privatise or outsource jobs, and reiterating the call for investment not cuts.

Take action

Want to fight job cuts and campaign for better pay? Join PCS today.

If you are a member, get active in your union. Your first steps are signing up to go to our national conference in Brighton from 24-26 May and joining the TUC march in London on 18 June to call for a real pay rise.

Complete our campaign action to email your MP – which includes a model email which you can amend with extra information in your own words if you wish

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18 May 2022 | PCS campaigners call on DWP and MP to save their jobs
Vinovium House in Bishop Auckland is one of 43 DWP processing sites earmarked for closure as part of DWP plans, but PCS activists are campaigning for their future.

They are calling on Tory MP Dehenna Davison to save their jobs. The jobs are at risk after the government decided to close two floors of the purpose-built office in the town's Newgate Centre. More than 50 PCS members currently working at Vinovium House are being transferred to the new site, knowing they face being made redundant. 

PCS DWP Group President Martin Cavanagh said: “DWP’s treatment of loyal, hard-working staff in Bishop Auckland is callous. Staff providing a crucial public service will be moved to the Newgate Centre knowing that their jobs are at risk. 

“The long-term lease was secured in 2021 after detailed negotiations with the council on the basis that all 101 staff would be working at the site. The staff now facing redundancy even had their names on the desks.”

Martin says there is no good business reason which could justify making any of our members redundant.
“We need to keep this work in Bishop Auckland as planned, the local economy cannot afford to lose further jobs,” he said.

“The government is loudly proclaiming the welcome new civil service work in Darlington but is quietly putting local jobs at risk at the same time. This is the opposite of levelling up. PCS is calling on DWP and local MP Dehenna Davison to reverse the decision and keep jobs in Bishop Auckland. 

“Cuts have consequences. We shall fight for every job in the civil service. Not just on behalf of our members, but on behalf of every member of the public who relies on the services they provide.” 
Let us know what’s happening where you are, email dwp@pcs.org.uk

How you can support our campaign

Send a message of support to the group by emailing dwp@pcs.org.uk
Are you a member in need of help or support?
Sign our petition against the DWP plans and use our e-action to ask your MP to support our campaign.
Log into to PCS Digital to find your rep who will be happy to help you
Tell us how the announcement affects you, email dwp@pcs.org.uk
Recruit a colleague to PCS, they can join online right away
Support the PCS campaign where you are, get active in your union.

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17 May 2022 | PCS ONS Group response to civil service cuts announcement
PCS will be talking urgently to ONS about the government's plans to cut 91,000 civil service jobs over the next 3 years and will pass on as much information as we can to members as soon as we can. 

The contribution our members make to government policy is critical for this country, as demonstrated during the Covid-19 pandemic, now and in the future.

Any cuts could mean that important outputs could be lost and the blame for it not being done will, inevitably, be placed at the door of the civil service by the politicians who decided to make the cuts. 

That is before realising that to deliver what is needed we need highly skilled and motivated staff. Who could maintain motivation when we face the prospect of massive job cuts and another effective pay cut?

Please make sure that your colleagues who are not already members know that PCS will be doing whatever it takes to protect our members at the UK Statistics Authority. There’s never been a better time to join PCS.

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6 May 2022 | Mark Serwotka calls out Rees-Mogg on return to the office policy
His letter to the government minister is in response to the notes left on civil servants’ desks referring to seeing them “in the office very soon”.

In his letter of 29 April to Jacob Rees-Mogg, general secretary Mark Serwotka reminds him that “PCS members worked hard to keep the country running during the pandemic, adapting to extremely difficult circumstances and, in many cases, at risk to their health.”

His letter is in response to notes left on civil servants’ desks that said “Sorry you were out when I visited. I look forward to seeing you in the office very soon”, signed by Rees-Mogg.

Mark says, “Your note indicates that their dedication and commitment to public service is not valued by you” and says, “It is a disgraceful way for a government minister to behave.”

Mark points out that “Evidence shows that hybrid working improves workers’ wellbeing and boosts productivity” and accuses Rees-Mogg of “deliberately prioritising your ideological approach to Covid safety over civil servants’ welfare and the quality of public service they deliver.”

He continues: “Your political drive to return to a pre-pandemic world runs contrary to scientific advice concerning the continuing dangers of Covid, and advice concerning the action required to mitigate against future pandemics. Medical professionals have been clear that “living with Covid” should not mean ignoring its continued harm to many thousands of vulnerable people. Your insistence on a return to the office policy which completely ignores the risks to staff and to the wider community is negligent.”

Mark requests a timely response to his letter and we will publish any response when and if it is received.

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4 May 2022 | United We Stand

Group secretary Jim Knotts looks at some recent victories which highlight the benefits of being in a union.

PCS has recently won improved pay offers for our members in Atos and Fujitsu after successful industrial action ballots in which our members stood together with their union.

In Atos a planned strike forced the multinational to negotiate with PCS and offer an improved pay deal. From an initial offer of 1% which was overwhelmingly rejected, our members voted to accept 6% over two years with 4% backdated money being paid before the national insurance increase in April 2022, and the further 2% from 1 April.

Both these disputes highlight the benefits of being in a union
This is a great deal for the lowest paid and for agency staff working in the areas covered by the PCS bargaining unit who will see their base salary rise from £20,000 to £21,216 from April 2022.

Our other decisive victory was in Fujitsu when a turnout of 80% with a 77% yes vote for strike action led to an improved offer.

PCS members were furious at being offered a 1.5% increase by the Japanese multinational after enduring a pay freeze last year. After the threat of industrial action a new two year deal was reached that will see pay rises ranging from 4.1% (plus a bonus) to 11.4% for our lowest paid members. More than two-thirds of the bargaining unit will receive a consolidated and pensionable increase of 6.1% in October 2022.

Both these disputes highlight the benefits of being in a union that is prepared to back its members in their struggle to bring management back to the negotiating table with better offers. It was only by sticking together and supporting the union that these members won these increases to their pay and this was reflected in the massive votes in favour of accepting the PCS negotiated deals.

Jim Knotts, group secretary

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All Members Meeting - 4 May, 6pm
The meeting is to discuss the next steps in negotiations over hybrid working.
PCS will be holding an all members meeting on Wednesday 4 May at 6pm, via Zoom.

The meeting will update members on the reconvening of negotiations with Ofsted management, following the Easter break. It will also allow us to discuss next steps and provide space for members to ask any questions.

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28 April 2022 | People survey reveals massive dissatisfaction with pay
Civil servants are unsurprisingly massively dissatisfied with their pay, according to the results of the latest Civil Service People survey, published this week.

The fact that thousands of public sector workers have endured below-inflation pay rises for over a decade is reflected in the figures which show overwhelmingly that staff in most departments are unhappy about their pay. Three departments, the Department for International Trade, HM Treasury and MOJ, share the lowest score for pay and benefits satisfaction with 28%. While only 3 employers – HMRC, MOJ and Northern Ireland Office have seen satisfaction with pay increase over the past 12 months.

Only 3 departments have 50% or more staff who say they are happy with their pay - Scottish Government (56%), Welsh Government (60%) and the Northern Ireland Office (50%). While pay satisfaction is also very low in the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (29%), and Home Office (30%).

Our members voted in record numbers in our recent consultative ballot to support our national pay claim of 10% and to get the 2% they have overpaid towards their pension refunded and backdated to April 2019. 98% of members endorsed the claim and 81% indicated they would be prepared to take industrial action if the government didn’t listen.

Since then, we have been working tirelessly to persuade Cabinet Office and Treasury officials, as well as government ministers, to do the right thing on pay. Unfortunately, the government refuses to listen and also intends to make cuts to the civil service redundancy scheme.

PCS General Secretary Mark Serwotka said: “These figures back up what we heard from our members in our consultative ballot that they are deeply unhappy about their pay. Our members are facing the greatest crisis in living standards since records began and their employer, the UK government, is unwilling to do anything to help them.

“Unless this situation changes and ministers help their own workforce who are struggling like never before, we will make the case to move towards a statutory ballot for strike action across large parts of PCS membership to put pressure on the government.”

Email your MP to ask for a pay rise to address the cost-of-living crisis. It will take less than 2 minutes and has a model email included which can be amended to add in extra information in your own words if you wish.

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26 April 2022 | Tell your MP the pay cuts have to stop

The past few months have been really tough for PCS members. Email your MP to ask for a pay rise to address the cost of living.

In late December the government confirmed that they would not refund pension scheme members for the 2% overpayment that have been paid since April 2019.  The government used the excuse of their own law breaking exposed by the McCloud judgement to heap on the extra costs to pension scheme members. This meant the government can now claim the overpayment never occurred because retrospectively they have deemed these extra costs have to be taken into account. PCS still disputes this and believes these extra costs should be met by the government not scheme members.

Then in late March the government issued the treasury pay remit for 22/23 which would limit pay increases to around 2% for this year. This means a massive real terms pay cut for members as CPI inflation is currently 7% and rising. Another measure of inflation is RPI and that is currently 9.9%. (RPI includes housing costs). On top of this energy costs rose by over 50% in April when the energy price cap rose by 54%. Therefore the 2% pay remit is wholly inadequate in the current cost of living crisis we face.

In our recent consultative ballot 98% of members endorsed our national claim for a 10% pay rise. Whilst our annual delegate conference will be asked in May what more actions the union should take, what we can do immediately is to lobby our own MPs and in turn ask them to put pressure on the civil service minister Heather Wheeler.

You can complete this campaign action to email your MP  - it will take less than 2 minutes and has a model email included which can be amended to add in extra information in your own words if you wish.

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26 April 2022 | Take our survey on PCS rep communications
Our recent consultative ballot showed that it is crucial that we can communicate effectively with our activists and to ensure our communications are effective we need reps and advocates to give their feedback in a short survey.
The last couple of years, where the majority of our membership have been working from home, have meant that we have relied heavily on digital methods of communicating with activists, rather than print. This has huge advantages in terms of the speed with which we can share things, as well as the reduced costs.
However, we need to make sure that the communications that we produce are useful for activists and if not, what should we do differently.
All activists for whom we hold a personal email address should have received the survey link in an email sent out today. Take part in this short survey, which runs until 17 May, we would appreciate your feedback.
If you haven’t yet registered your email address with us, sign up through PCS Digital.

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25 April 2022 | PCS formally enters pay dispute with government

As the government refuses to give our members the pay rise they deserve or pay back the pensions overpayments they are owed and plans to cut their redundancy terms, PCS is writing to tell them that we are formally in dispute.
Next month at our annual conference, we are asking delegates to endorse our strategy and move towards an industrial action ballot in early autumn, following a summer of consultation with members and reps over which areas should be balloted.

Our members voted in record numbers in our recent consultative ballot to support our national pay claim of 10% and to get the 2% they have overpaid towards their pension refunded and backdated to April 2019. 98% of members endorsed the claim and 81% indicated they would be prepared to take industrial action if the government didn’t listen.

Since then we have been working tirelessly to persuade Cabinet Office and Treasury officials, as well as government ministers, to do the right thing on pay. After all, our members helped to keep this country running during the Covid pandemic, and their reward for that should not be to now take the single biggest drop in living standards since records began in 1956. Unfortunately, the government refuses to listen and also intends to make cuts to the civil service redundancy scheme.

It is not a coincidence that they want to make these cuts at a time when Jacob Rees-Mogg is calling for more than 65,000 jobs to be lost in the civil service.

We cannot let this stand and we need to organise a campaign using the mandate that members have given us to put pressure on the government. We are also hoping that as we take this important step, that other public sector unions will be doing the same.

NEC decision
The PCS national executive committee met this week to make important decisions and agreed to formally register a dispute with the government and civil service employers over our members’ right to:
a 10% pay rise
get back money they have overpaid into their pension; and
have no cuts to their redundancy pay.


We must now make the case to move towards a statutory ballot for strike action across large parts of PCS membership to put pressure on the government.

We are also urging our members, their families and friends to help put pressure on the government by attending the TUC’s national demonstration in London on 18 June and calling for a cost-of-living pay rise for all workers.

It is important that members get involved and tell us what you think. You will shortly be getting details from your local branch about meetings being arranged to ask you how delegates should vote on your behalf at conference. Make sure you attend those meetings. Make sure you look out for PCS literature and communications.

And if we’re going to be successful we also need you and your colleagues to urge anyone you know you isn’t a member to join PCS.
If we stick together, we can win.

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25 April 2022 | News from the NEC – April 2022 - National public sector campaign

Our national executive committee took important decisions on the next steps in the national public sector campaign.
It was clear to all NEC members at their April meeting that after a record-breaking result in the consultative ballot, and with the government relentlessly attacking members’ pay, pensions and redundancy pay, your appalling treatment simply cannot continue.

It was agreed by the NEC that with living standards set to plummet by the most since records began, and with the pay remit guidance capping pay at 2%, now was the time to work towards a national statutory ballot on industrial action in the early autumn. Delegates at our annual delegate conference next month will be asked to endorse the strategy agreed by the NEC.

The strategy includes a declaration of a formal dispute over pay, pensions and redundancy pay in the UK civil service and related public sector areas. The NEC also proposes a summer of consultation with members and reps over which areas should be balloted.

The government has no intention of improving member’s falling living standards and have in fact taken steps to worsen the crisis. That is why the coming months will be so important as we build momentum for this crucial campaign and we need as many members to get involved as possible.

Covid update

The NEC noted the strong reaction from PCS in the wake of comments from government minister Jacob Rees-Mogg, who has written to all departments demanding more people return to the office. Rees-Mogg also sent out a “league table” of government departments, which details the office capacity each one is currently operating at.

The union condemned the deeply insulting words and actions of Rees-Mogg and highlighted the immense sacrifices PCS members have made during the pandemic. The NEC welcomed the union’s commitment to hybrid working for members and the union will continue to push the government to embrace the benefits of this new way of working.

Annual delegate conference (ADC) 2022

With ADC one month away, the NEC undertook final preparations. Conference is an important event for PCS, as delegates agree the aims and objectives for the next 12 months. Following on from the pandemic and with worsening the cost-of-living crisis, the year ahead for PCS is going to be crucial and so we want as many members as possible to participate at this year’s ADC.

Both ADC and group conferences will be held physically in Brighton, with speaking and voting procedures will be open to delegates attending online. Contingency plans in place if plans are forced to change due to Covid.

Members can still register to attend via their branch and you can read more information on ADC 2022.

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21 April 2022 | PCS calls on Cabinet Office to make Covid safety pledge

PCS is calling on the civil service to introduce a Covid-19 safety pledge to promote the creation of safe spaces at work.

The pledge, backed by PCS, was written by the Independent SAGE group of scientists and urges employers to sign up to ensure Covid-safe spaces for their employees, customers and any users of these spaces.

While the UK government has decreed that the Covid crisis is over, the facts on the ground show otherwise. Infections are now running at rates rarely seen before. Along with the message that it is back to normal, the UK government is also pushing a message that Covid has now morphed into a mild type of flu. But the facts don’t bear this out.

We are now formally writing to the Cabinet Office and Government Property Agency, which is responsible for the management of government property, to enter into talks to obtain a national civil service-wide agreement adopting the employer pledge and setting out national standards on its application. These standards cover:
Ventilation and air quality

Recording and monitoring of cases

Self-isolation and sick pay, including the right to self-isolate on full pay for as long as it takes to recover and full payment of sick pay and self-isolation rights for all outsourced workers as a safety mitigation.

HR policies, including time off to recover fully and to have reasonable adjustments put in place that support the worker coming back to work, such as for those who are suffering from Long Covid.

Motion A8, passed at our annual delegate conference last year, instructed our national executive to coordinate the establishment and development of building wide health and safety committees in multi-occupied areas. We are working with a number of groups and branches on developing this work. We are developing a PCS-wide safety campaign providing safety reps with a checklist to take to their local management and name and shame departments and workplaces that don’t sign up to the pledge. Join a reps’ briefing sessionWe are organising a Long Covid briefing session for reps from 12.30pm-1.30pm on Wednesday (27).

The Office for National Statistics reported that an estimated 1.7 million people (2.7% of the UK population) were living with Long Covid in the UK, as of 7 April. As long as infections run rampant in this country then unfortunately many more people will be affected.

Given the nature of Long Covid, with multiple symptoms which can vary over time, there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach for helping members who have Long Covid.

Therefore, as part of arming reps with information and arguments as to how people with Long Covid should be treated, we are running this briefing session on Teams.

Speakers include:
Polina Sparks, from the Long Covid Support Employment Group
Alice Arkwright, TUC Policy and Campaign Support Officer
John Moloney, PCS Assistant General Secretary.

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21 April 2022 | Use your vote to choose who represents you

The elections are now open to choose the members of the national executive committee, the union's governing body.

The national executive committee (NEC) is the governing body of PCS, responsible for running your union in line with the policies agreed by you and other members through conferences and membership ballots.

Each year, PCS members vote to elect the NEC. It is vitally important that you vote in this election as a good turnout in our elections strengthens the union and helps our representatives stand up for members.

The election addresses by candidates standing for president, deputy president and vice-presidents and ordinary member seats can be downloaded and read online. Please read the election addresses to help you decide which candidates you think would provide the most effective leadership for the union. 

The ballot is postal and you will receive your ballot paper in the next few days.  Please return your completed ballot paper in the envelope provided to arrive no later than 12 noon on Thursday 12 May 2022. Ballot papers received after then will not be included.

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20 April 2022 | Count on PCS for a strong voice at work

Joining PCS makes you part of a strong collective of members where you work, giving you a powerful voice.
Whether you work in a jobcentre, Revenue and Customs office, at our borders or a department in Westminster, in your first job or your fifth, a manager or just starting out, full-time or part-time – PCS is your union.
Your union supports you. It negotiates with your employer to protect you. It helps ensure you work in a safe environment.
A trade union protects your career from the inside, at your place of work. It links you to other people with the same ambitions for a rewarding working life. It links you to a support network that means you do not need to face tough challenges alone and have a collective voice to speak up for you on key issues. You can also have your say on how PCS is run and what policies we pursue by getting active in your union.

Is a union for me?

There are more than 5.5 million trade union members in the UK: from professional footballers to actors, from nurses to teachers, drivers to care workers, builders to office workers... there is a union for everyone. PCS is the union for civil servants and private sector workers on public sector contracts. Join us online today.

Why is it important to join a union?

Right now, the world of work is changing rapidly with new technologies, new priorities and changing work patterns. In the post Covid-19 workplace, these changes will accelerate and throw up new challenges for you. Let PCS be your voice at work.

Your union supports you, talks to your employer on your behalf and helps resolve issues that crop up for you at work. Your union helps ensure you work in a safe and healthy environment.

Your union is a valuable network that you cannot afford not to be a part of. Join us today.

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19 April 2022 | Government minister insults PCS members with back to office drive

A slap in the face to our members who worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic, is how PCS has described a call by Jacob Rees-Mogg for more civil servants to return to offices.

The government efficiencies minister has written to all the secretaries of state and is encouraging them to ensure a rapid return of staff to offices. This is despite our members adapting brilliantly to home and hybrid working during the pandemic to deliver vital public services.

In a cynical move, Rees-Mogg has also distributed a “league table” of government departments, which details the office capacity each one is currently operating at. This decision to name and shame departments has been widely condemned by unions.

In another comment, senior Conservative MP, Sir Graham Brady, further offended workers when he implied that people haven’t been working when he said “it is simply unacceptable for so many of our public servants to continue sitting at home."

These remarks and the actions of Rees-Mogg have been labelled as hugely out of touch, with evidence showing that hybrid working improves workers’ wellbeing and boosts productivity.

PCS General Secretary Mark Serwotka said: "These comments from Jacob Rees-Mogg and his Conservative colleagues are a slap in the face to PCS members who worked tirelessly and who made immense sacrifices during the pandemic.

"For over two years, often under the government's own instruction, many of our members have demonstrated that they can do their job from home. The suggestion that they've been 'sitting at home' and not working is deeply insulting.

"The government rightly lauded our members when it mattered. Now they seek to denigrate and offend them. Instead, they should embrace the benefits of hybrid working and make good on their promise to build back better."

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19 April 2022
Members peering into black hole of DWP office closures

“It's like peering into a black hole but trying to encourage staff to believe the best will happen,” says Susan, summing up her response to the threatened closure of the benefits processing centre in Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent, where she works.

Hanley is one of more than 40 DWP processing offices which the DWP announced last month would close next year. It is one of 13 sites where staff are not being offered a chance to relocate within the department.

“This closure was announced without sufficient information and traumatised the staff,” said Susan, an executive officer with more than 20 years’ service. I don't know how much more we can take. It’s heart breaking.”

William has spent the last 2 years helping people with applications for Personal Independence Payments. He enjoys his work and helping the public.
“I am so proud of the work we do. All this hard-won experience will be gone,” he says. “I have worked at Hanley service centre for three-and-a-half years. This closure is devastating.”

Peter is an administrative officer at the Hanley centre who has worked for the department for more than 20 years, he is appalled by the closure decision.
“I am shocked and appalled by the decision to close our office,” he said. “I have recently taken out a mortgage with my partner and have gone virtually overnight from what I what I thought was a reasonably secure job to being thrown into the realms of an uncertain future with no answers as to whether I can be redeployed elsewhere or whether I will be made redundant. I have worked for all my working life and faced with this has brought on daily panic attacks and makes me feel physically sick.”

Members' names have been changed.

Tell us how you think this decision could affect you by emailing: dwp@pcs.org.uk
We will use your comments on social media and in web articles but will change your name.
Also get in touch if you are part of a campaign in your area against the closure of one of the offices, to tell us how you are fighting the plans.

We also need all PCS members to sign our petition against the DWP plans and use our e-action to ask their MP to support our campaign.

Are you a DWP member in need of help or support?
Log into to PCS Digital to find your rep who will be happy to help you
Tell us how issues affects you, email dwp@pcs.org.uk
Recruit a colleague to PCS, they can join online right away
Read our frequently asked questions and answers for members
Support the PCS campaign where you are, get active in your union.

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13 April 2022 | Cost of living continues to rocket as inflation rises to 7%.

The increase will put even more pressure on PCS members, with many already struggling to pay their bills.

UK inflation has reached its highest level in three decades, coming just a month after the figure had hit 6.2% in February. The increase will put even more pressure on PCS members, with many already struggling to pay their bills.

This further strain on members’ household income follows on from the derisory 2% pay announcement two weeks ago. This falls way short of what members need and recent calculations highlighted just how much members are missing out after over a decade of pay restraint.

The national executive committee will meet next week to discuss the next steps as the union looks to do everything it can to ensure members are shielded from the cost of living crisis.

General secretary Mark Serwotka said: “These latest inflation figures make it clear the cost of living crisis is getting worse by the day and this government’s response has fallen woefully short.”

“The insulting pay offer recently announced will be little comfort to members who are struggling to put food on the table or heat their home. Over the coming weeks we’ll keep members informed about what we intend to do and how you can get involved as we set out to correct this grave injustice.”

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11 April 2022 | DWP staff with decades of service share their fears for the future

PCS members with many years of dedicated service to the public have spoken of their anger and disappointment over DWP plans to close more than 40 offices.

The DWP announced on 17 March plans to close 41 DWP processing offices, many in deprived communities already damaged by government cuts, putting thousands of jobs at risk of redundancy.

Diane works part-time as an executive officer and has worked for the department for 50 years. She described the closure announcement as “like a bolt from the blue sending shockwaves throughout the entire office community. A bombshell had been dropped and the shock waves were never ending.”

“Our managers were struggling trying to deal with their distressed and angered staff while coping with their own shock,” she said.

“I have seen several changes over the years and there have been times when the department could have done better. I have to pose the question – why have they never learned from the past? Why does this massive department continue to make such major errors of judgement?”

Administrative officer Siobhan is 62 and has worked for the department for over 40 years. She is very worried about being made redundant and the prospect of having to find a new job so close to retirement.

“I don’t think the redundancy package will be enough to last me until I retire at 66 so I face looking for employment elsewhere, which I doubt I’ll get at my age,” she said. “I’ve moved twice in the last 2 years to smaller and smaller houses to try and make ends meet. I’ve nowhere else to go now.”

EO Joanne is feeling incredibly stressed: “After nearly 43 years working for the government and always going above and beyond, stretching myself and jumping through any hoops I was asked to I feel completely gutted and traumatised at the announcement that my office is closing within 10 months.”

She says the government has shown “total disregard to their staff’s well-being” which she finds abhorrent.
“The uncertainty of our future with no answers from the department is adding to the stress we all feel,” she added.
Members names have been changed.

Tell us how you think this decision could affect you by emailing: dwp@pcs.org.uk
We will use your comments on social media and in web articles but will change your name.
Also get in touch if you are part of a campaign in your area against the closure of one of the offices to tell us how you are fighting the plans.

We also need all PCS members to sign our petition against the DWP plans and use our e-action to ask their MP to support our campaign.

Are you a DWP member in need of help or support?
Log into to PCS Digital to find your rep who will be happy to help you
Tell us how issues affects you, email dwp@pcs.org.uk
Recruit a colleague to PCS, they can join online right away
Read our frequently asked questions and answers for members
Support the PCS campaign where you are, get active in your union.

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25 March 2022 | Mark Serwotka calls out government for its miserable response to poverty crisis

“The most miserable, disgraceful response to a national crisis of poverty that is imaginable,” is how PCS General Secretary Mark Serwotka summed up the chancellor’s spring statement to the Question Time audience last night.

Mark joined a panel in Reading to answer questions from the studio audience on subjects including the chancellor’s spring statement, ideas on how to get refugees from Ukraine to the UK safely, and the future of fire-and-rehire.

Answering the question: Has the chancellor done enough to help those choosing between heating and eating in his spring statement?

Mark said: “Not only did he not do enough, the little he did disproportionately benefits those who are better off.”

He outlined what the government could have implemented to help millions of people in poverty:

Place a windfall tax on energy companies.
Limit energy price rises.

Describing how people call him in tears because they despair about the future said working people have faced over a decade of problems.

“It isn’t because of the Ukraine crisis, yes that’s playing a part, but in the last 10 years in this country wage growth has been the lowest since the Napoleonic period. So, we’ve had 10 years of problems and now it is dramatically worse,” he said.

“This is a national crisis that requires a crisis response and that should mean that benefits should immediately increase by at least the rate of inflation. Those people at work, including nurses, teachers and benefits staff, being offered a 3% pay rise, which means a minimum 5% reduction in their living standards, should see wage growth that means that poor people and the people who are struggling at work, are shielded from the worst effects.”

Mark said chancellor Rishi Sunak did not have a clue about the reality of life for many people in the UK.
“My conclusion is either Rishi Sunak doesn’t listen, doesn’t understand or he doesn’t care,” he said.

“I think it’s a combination of all 3, and when you consider the man who delivered this miserable statement is one of the richest MPs in parliament, with a personal fortune of £200 million, he hasn’t got a clue and that is why he does not care. And that is why that the sooner we get them out and we have a government that looks after the people of this country, the better.”

Support sacked P&O workers
Mark also told the audience that fired P&O employees should be rehired and warned “other companies will follow suit” if action is not taken.

“What we have to do is say this has to stop,” said Mark.

He called on the government to agree some basic steps following P&O’s actions in sacking 800 staff without notice or consultation:

P&O must be forced to reinstate all workers without loss of pay.
Until the company does that the government will cancel all contracts with the parent company DP World
Nationalise the company as part of a critical national infrastructure ferrying people to Europe.

“We need stronger laws and to outlaw fire and rehire of British firms who are doing this as we speak and we need to force the companies to comply or we will take them off the route by whatever means that takes,” he said.

“If we don’t do that other companies will follow suit. And other companies won’t just sack their workers, they will exploit laws and pay people £1.81 an hour. You should get more than that for doing a paper round as a child, let alone for critically carrying out duties to ferry people from the UK to Europe.”

He said the government should be ashamed because it was a consequence of undermining the rights of trade unions and workers. He called on the government to do something about it immediately.
You can watch the episode on the BBC iPlayer.

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24 March 2022 | All DWP branches meeting on stop the cuts campaign

PCS is urging all DWP branches to send 2 reps to an online meeting on Thursday (31) to discuss our campaign to oppose the proposed closure of 41 processing offices across the DWP.

We have agreed facility time with the DWP for 2 reps from each branch in the PCS DWP Group to attend the meeting which runs from 10.30am to 4pm.

Before Thursday, reps are encouraged to hold meetings to consult with their members and gauge what they are prepared to do to support the campaign. Branches are advised to contact dwp@pcs.org.uk to arrange a speaker from the PCS negotiating team.

All branches are expected to send delegates to this very important meeting which will be held on Zoom.

Are you a DWP member in need of help or support?
Log into to PCS Digital to find your rep who will be happy to help you
Tell us how issues affects you, email dwp@pcs.org.uk
Recruit a colleague to PCS, they can join online right away
Read our frequently asked questions and answers for members
Support the PCS campaign where you are, get active in your union.

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24 March 2022 | Stop the DWP office closures and job losses

First we were clapped, then we were scrapped Having helped keep the UK running during the pandemic, DWP has rewarded our members by announcing large-scale office closures, which will almost certainly mean job losses.

We helped keep the country running
On 17 March, DWP made the shocking announcement of its intention to make large-scale office closures.

The announcement has been devastating for PCS members, as thousands now face possible redundancy. These are the same people who helped keep the country running during the pandemic by processing benefit payments, including unprecedented numbers of Universal Credit claims. 

Sign our petition to stop the DWP office closure scandal.

Email your MP today to urge them to support our campaign. 

Are you a DWP member in need of help or support?
Log into to PCS Digital to find your rep who will be happy to help you
Tell us how issues affects you, email dwp@pcs.org.uk
Recruit a colleague to PCS, they can join online right away
Read our frequently asked questions and answers for members
Support the PCS campaign where you are, get active in your union.

At least 1,000 jobs are at risk over the closure of 13 processing sites, with more job losses feared over the closure and relocation of a further 28 offices. Closures are scheduled to happen by June 2023.

Sites closing with no alternative
Aberdeen, Ebury House;
Barrow in Furness, Phoenix House;
Bishop Auckland, Vinovium House;
Blackburn, Cardwell Place;
Bury St Edmunds, St Andrews house;
Chippenham, St Pauls House;
Exeter, Clarendon House;
Gravesend, The Grove;
Kirkcaldy, Victoria Road;
Milton Keynes, Southgate House;
Peterborough, Bridge Street;
Southampton, St Cross House;
Stoke-on-Trent, Hanley, Stafford Street.

Sites closing, alternative offered
Bathgate, Whitburn Road;
Birkenhead, Hordan House;
Bradford, Leeds Road;
Burnley, Brun House;
Chesterfield;
Doncaster, Crossgate House;
Dundee, Lindsay House;
Falkirk, Callendar Gate;
Glasgow, Clydebank, Radnor House;
Glasgow, Springburn;
Gloucester, Cedar House;
Liverpool, Belle Vale,
Childwall Valley Road;
London Hackney, Sylvester Road;
London Stratford, Jubilee House;
Manchester Chorlton, Graeme House;
Nuneaton, Discovery House;
Oldham, Phoenix House;
Preston, the Guild Centre;
Rotherham, Dearne Valley, Discovery House;
Seaham, Lighthouse View;
Southend-on-Sea, Kingswood House;
St Helens, Gregson House;
Stirling, St Ninians Road;
Stockton-on-Tees, Tees Buildings;
Walsall, government buildings;
Warrington, Hilden House;
Washington, Durham House;
Wellingborough, Lothersdale House.

Miracle workers
The government was quick to praise civil servants at the start of the pandemic, but ministers are even quicker to fire them now they have declared the pandemic over. 

Our members have worked tirelessly behind the scenes, keeping the country running, paying out benefits to almost two-and-a-half million families, helping them to put food on their table and keep a roof over their head. 

These are the workers rightly praised in 2020 by secretary of state for work and pensions Theresa Coffey as ‘exceptional’. In November 2021, prime minister Boris Johnson called DWP staff “miracle workers”.

Now, as food and fuel prices rise faster than ever, they are being abandoned by Coffey and Johnson’s cronies and left to fend for themselves. But PCS is determined to fight for them.

An online meeting of all PCS DWP branches is planned for 31 March.

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24 March 2022
PCS brands pay process a farce as Cabinet Office rules out meaningful consultation

PCS has accused the Cabinet Office of ignoring the cost-of-living crisis and its impact on our members.

We met with the Cabinet Office yesterday (23) to discuss the forthcoming pay remit guidance, which covers pay setting arrangements for civil servants throughout the civil service, due to be published next Thursday (31 March).

We told the Cabinet Office that our members have now voted by a majority of 98% to endorse our pay claim, submitted in December, and by a majority of 81% to take industrial action, if their aspirations are not met. We said that there needed to be a sea change in the employer’s approach to negotiations if industrial action was to be avoided.

Our claim was based on demands for a proper reward for public sector workers for their efforts during the pandemic and a better post-pandemic world of work. The government finally sent a formal reply on Tuesday (22) which was totally dismissive of the needs of our members who have played a key role in keeping public services running during a time of national crisis. There was no recognition of a post-pandemic settlement; and no recognition of inflationary pressures that were contributing to a cost-of-living crisis that was exacerbated by over a decade of pay restraint.

No serious consultation
At the meeting, Cabinet Office officials said that Heather Wheeler, MP, parliamentary secretary for the Cabinet Office, would meet civil service unions next week, two days before the publication of the remit guidance. They then went on to present an in-confidence draft of the guidance, telling the unions present those copies would need to be handed in at the end of the meeting.

We said that this process was farcical and could not under any circumstances be considered a serious consultation. We said that we needed to be given a copy of the document to enable us to consider it and to submit our comments and proposed amendments. We also said that the Cabinet Office needed to give themselves time to consciously consider all comments before they made any final decisions on publication.

In response, the Cabinet Office said that they were not consulting us on the document. This obviously raised the question as to the point of the process. PCS reiterated that we needed to be given a copy of the document; that the process was a farce; and that the lack of recognition of the cost-of-living crisis faced by our members was unacceptable.

We are writing to the minister ahead of our meeting next week to set out our position. We will keep members informed of developments.

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23 March 2022 | Sunak fails to deliver for PCS members

Today’s spring statement from Rishi Sunak is a massive disappointment to PCS members.

In a report issued by the Office for Budgetary Responsibility (OBR) this year is described as “the worst year for living standards since records began in 1956”. Against that backdrop with inflation at a 30-year high of 6.2% (CPI) and 7.8% (RPI) and set to go higher, PCS members were hoping for some encouragement on wages, but nothing was said about this at all.

We have meetings with ministers next week to discuss the civil service Treasury pay remit but other offers have been around 2%. If this turns out to be the case this would inflict a massive, real-terms pay cut on PCS members just when we actually need an above inflation increase to cope with rising fuel and energy prices which are far in excess of even the 6.2% CPI.

The budget failed on a number of fronts:
Failed to reverse next month’s National Insurance increase.
No cut to VAT on energy bills
Nothing to compensate civil service pension scheme members for the 2% overpayment in contributions since 2019.

While some small changes were made to the threshold for when workers start paying NI and there is a temporary cut in fuel duty, overall members will be massively worse off this year and the government is failing to step in and help.

PCS members just voted by over 97% to back an inflation plus pay claim with 80% saying they would be prepared to take action about it. This mandate will be taken into the discussions on the pay remit to let ministers know exactly how they feel.

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22 March 2022 |Read PCS blogs on impact of DWP closures and outlining our campaign

We are running regular blogs on our campaign against the closure of more than 40 DWP offices. The first posts two call for all members to get involved in the PCS campaign and look at the personal impact of the decision.

Last week, the DWP made the shocking announcement of its intention to make large-scale office closures.

The announcement has been devastating for PCS members, as thousands now face possible redundancy. These are the same people who helped keep the country running during the pandemic by processing benefit payments, including unprecedented numbers of Universal Credit claims.

Read PCS DWP Group President Martin Cavanagh’s blog in which he says the union will fight against the office closures and thousands of job cuts announced by the department and the government. He calls on all members in the group to take part in our campaign.

PCS member Mary, who has 28 years’ experience and works as an executive office at Durham House in Washington, describes in her blog the great uncertainty and sadness she is facing, following the DWP office announcement.

Send a message of support to the group by emailing dwp@pcs.org.uk

Are you a DWP member in need of help or support?
Log into to PCS Digital to find your rep who will be happy to help you
Tell us how issues affects you, email dwp@pcs.org.uk
Recruit a colleague to PCS, they can join online right away
Read our frequently asked questions and answers for members
Support the PCS campaign where you are, get active in your union.

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22 March 2022 | PCS members deliver huge yes vote

PCS members have delivered a huge 'Yes' vote to the union’s demands on pay and pensions and on their willingness to take action if negotiations do not deliver a fair deal.

The consultative ballot of all members working in the public sector took place between Monday 14 February and Monday 21 March 2022. The ballot was conducted by post and electronically.

Ballot result:
97.3% in support of the national pay claim
80.7% willing to take industrial action
45.2% turnout.

The result represents the highest yes vote for action, and the second highest turnout for a national ballot, in the union’s history. 70,000 members took part in the ballot across 246 separate employer areas.

The ballot took place at a time of rising concern over the cost-of-living crisis. Fuel, food, and transport cost increases are outstripping pay awards. We now face council tax and national insurance increases due in April exacerbating the crisis for many of our members and particularly the lowest paid.

Our campaign demands include a 10% pay rise and pensions justice. PCS members in the public sector have seen their living standards fall by around 20% in real terms in the last decade. The government acted unlawfully yet refuses to refund the money members have overpaid for pension contributions – members are £500 a year worse off on average.

The National Executive Committee met on 22 March to consider the result. We are writing to the Cabinet Office to convey the strength of feeling amongst our members and to demand that the cost of living crisis is addressed in this year's pay settlement.

The NEC will shortly receive a detailed analysis of the result. This will include a breakdown of the vote by individual employer area. The NEC will meet again to decide on the next steps in the campaign, including industrial action plans.

PCS General Secretary Mark Serwotka said “This is the highest ever yes vote in favour of industrial action in our union’s history. It must make ministers sit up and take notice and provide the funds for a decent pay rise for hard working, mostly low-paid civil servants who have kept the country running during the pandemic.”

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18 March 2022 | Members shocked and angered by DWP office closures announcement

PCS members have reacted with shock and anger following the DWP’s announcement that it is to close more than 40 sites across the UK putting thousands of jobs at risk, with the union determined to fight the plans.

Members were told about the closures at meetings held by DWP yesterday morning, where PCS reps and staff were on hand to support those affected. Lots of members told the union how devastated they were by the announcement.

“I feel betrayed and upset at the way this has been handled, they knew for months and told us nothing,” said one member who works at the processing site in Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent, earmarked for closure. It is one of 13 sites nationally where staff will not be offered alternative roles or the opportunity to relocate.

“After all these years and all the hard work we’ve put in just feel it’s all for nothing. It’s a kick in the teeth,” said another.

Another member said the department’s decision did not make any sense: “If I want to continue to work for the DWP I'll have to change my job and where I work. It’s completely irresponsible to waste taxpayers’ money training 150 people to be good at something else, particularly when there are nowhere near enough people to do Personal Independence Payments nationally.”

Another member questioned the employer’s rationale that the decision had been made because buildings were not fit for purpose and that the DWP estate needed to be more sustainable and energy efficient.

“There are plenty of buildings out there that we could move into if this one isn't good enough,” they said.

Other members questioned why the department did not look at home working rather than office closures and potential job losses.

PCS is launching a petition and e-action next week as part of our campaign against the closures.

Not levelling up
SNP MP Chris Stephens, PCS parliamentary group chair, raised the office closures as an urgent question in the House of Commons yesterday.

“With thousands of job losses expected families and communities across the UK will be devastated by the losses. It is clear that ‘levelling up’ is another empty UK government slogan,” he said.

Labour MP Andrew Gwynne highlighted the fact that the jobs are located disproportionately in more deprived communities.

“The loss of good quality public sector jobs is a really important issue,” he said.

Labour colleague John McDonnell echoed these comments by commenting on Twitter: “The government is taking a novel approach to rolling out its levelling up programme by sacking hundreds of DWP workers in the very towns and areas most in need of jobs and investment.”

Are you a DWP member in need of help or support?
Log into to PCS Digital to find your rep who will be happy to help you
Tell us how issues affects you, email dwp@pcs.org.uk
Recruit a colleague to PCS, they can join online right away
Read our frequently asked questions and answers for members
Support the PCS campaign where you are, get active in your union.

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17 March 2022 | Group secretary

Pay is too low, unions must be listened to, we have the membership and credibility to make changes.
We are entering a third year with Covid-19 casting a shadow over the future. After the success of our initial intervention with defence to keep members safe, the accrued benefits from that work haven’t fruited. Sadly, after so much cooperative work, the department has reverted to business as usual, with the trade unions not commanding the respect and influence their experience and membership affords them.

A great turnout in the national consultative ballot is essential to send a message to the employer, pay is too low, unions must be listened to, we have the membership and credibility to make changes. The ballot paper is on your personal/home email. Vote and tell us you have voted.

Wide variations
Business units experienced wide variations in their treatment relating to restrictions on workers since July 2020, allowing damaging local procedures to percolate through defence with little acknowledgement or control from main building; one of the worst offenders. We have been clear that the safest way for workplaces to operate was to have the minimum numbers of staff present, which is an affront to the status of many in defence who have no purpose without a cohort of underlings to watch over.

Against this background MOD has slipped out the news that there will be between 10 and 12.5% cuts to top level budgetary areas’ civilian staff costs because of the integrated review. The details have still not been shared fully with the unions, not inspiring confidence in the entire process.

Meanwhile, the department has been working on a review of employee relations, based initially around lessons learned from the joint working during the pandemic. We remain to be convinced that the outcome will deliver an improved background to deal with the challenges ahead.

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17 March 2022 | Pay

There was a helpful intervention from the permanent secretary when we met in February allowing both sides more scope to negotiate.

The government needs a civil service with high skill and competence, and they will only get that if they pay the required wages in DE&S and MOD main.

Pay 2021 negotiations were academic but talks continue about a multi-year deal in MOD to attract and retain civil servants; this will require proper investment of hard cash from the Treasury. There was a helpful intervention from the permanent secretary when we met in February allowing both sides more scope to negotiate.

The requirement for increased funding extends to the private sector too as much of their defence work comes from the MOD, paid for by the taxpayer. There have been developments on pay in both DE&S and MOD.  A two-year review into the pay system in DE&S has now concluded acknowledging many of the areas that PCS had challenged the employer over since 2017. The reward system had not been able to deliver the pay, recruitment or retention that DE&S required with staff leaving for the private sector and the MOD this was exactly what the pay system was intended to address. Pay had fallen behind MOD levels in many functions and grades and there must be some relationship with MOD pay to stop the drift.

MOD is at a crossroads: compelled to hold down pay yet knowing it simply cannot recruit the required skills at pitiful pay levels. Pay negotiations are at times an embarrassing dance where the unions are asked to suspend belief in the reality we see around us in favour of an emperor's new clothes scenario. The reality is plain, wages in defence and defence contracts are not keeping pace with other’s pay or inflation, privatization won’t solve this problem as profit will be stripped out and purse strings tightened as the treasury says no more cash.

Vote yes on pay.

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17 March 2022 | Health and safety (H&S)

The need for suitable risk assessment, including on an individual basis, we will seek to be maintained.

The Covid pandemic dominates the union’s H&S activity. As legal measures to control Covid have been eased and in England at least will be removed by the government, the need not to allow complacency to develop is paramount. So far, our involvement in the content of defence advice notices, especially DAN 15, has kept the majority of Covid mitigations in place at the workplace and made it clear that all risk assessment must involve trade union consultation. We are yet to see what the new Covid guidance will be post legal restrictions but the need for suitable risk assessment, including on an individual basis, we will seek to be maintained.

January 2022 saw the full implementation of a smoke-free working environment policy across defence establishments. As previously reported, we have made sure that top level budget holders (TLBs) have involved their trade union teams at that level, as well as the unions being part of local working groups managing the implementation. It's likely that we will be involved in a full review post implementation at some point in 2022.

Activities around health, safety and welfare are a crucial part of the role of our trade union and we remain committed to setting up a H&S working group led by the GEC by including interested activists both within and without the GEC membership as well as linking to local reps in this field. At our conference in June 21, we passed three motions on H&S with all three emphasising the experience of Covid and the need to use this to bolster our TU H&S rep network as well as to use relevant legislation as an organising tool and to make sure that appropriate H&S engagement is taking place at all levels. We continue to seek to achieve these aims in 2022.

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17 March 2022 | 42 DWP centres to close with thousands of jobs at risk

Having helped keep the UK running during the pandemic, DWP has rewarded our members by announcing large-scale office closures, which will almost certainly mean job losses.

We helped keep the country running
Today (17 March), DWP has made the shocking announcement of its intention to make large-scale office closures.

The announcement has been devasting for PCS members, as thousands now face possible redundancy. These are the same people who helped keep the country running during the pandemic by processing benefit payments, including unprecedented numbers of Universal Credit claims. 

Are you a DWP member in need of help or support?
Log into to PCS Digital to find your rep who will be happy to help you
Tell us how issues affects you, email dwp@pcs.org.uk
Recruit a colleague to PCS, they can join online right away
Read our frequently asked questions and answers for members
Support the PCS campaign where you are, get active in your union.

At least 1,000 jobs are at risk over the closure of 13 processing sites, with more job losses feared over the closure and relocation of a further 29 sites. Closures are scheduled to happen by June 2023.
Read the full list on our stop the office closures and job losses campaign page.

PCS General Secretary Mark Serwotka said: “Their union will be there for them, fighting for their jobs. But if they need support from the state, who will provide it when they’re gone?”

Bleak future for 'miracle workers'
So, while the Tory party is holding its spring conference in Blackpool this weekend, our members are facing a bleak future.
The government was quick to praise civil servants at the start of the pandemic but ministers are even quicker to fire them now they have declared the pandemic over. 

Our members have worked tirelessly behind the scenes, keeping the country running, paying out benefits to almost two-and-a-half million families, helping them to put food on their table and keep a roof over their head. 
These are the workers rightly praised in 2020 by secretary of state for work and pensions Therese Coffey as ‘exceptional’. In November 2021, prime minister Boris Johnson called DWP staff “miracle workers”.

Now, as food and fuel prices rise faster than ever, they are being abandoned by Coffey and Johnson’s cronies and left to fend for themselves. But PCS is determined to fight for them.

PCS staff and reps are on-hand at most sites today to listen to members. An online meeting of all PCS DWP branches is planned for 25 March.

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14 March 2022 | Not voting sends a message you are happy with your pay

If you don’t vote in the PCS national consultative ballot it sends a message that you are happy with your pay, says PCS rep Stephanie, who has been urging members where she works to use their vote.

We are now in the final week of our ballot on pay and pensions which ends next Monday (21 March). We are asking what action members would be prepared to take in support of our campaign demands, which include a 10% pay rise. This is not a strike ballot. It will ask members what action they would be prepared to take. A statutory industrial action ballot might follow later.

PCS reps have been explaining how they have been getting the vote out and stressing to members why it is important to take part in the ballot.

DWP rep Stephanie has been keen to stress that by not voting members are essentially saying: “I’m all right with my pay and my cost-of-living going up and quality of life going down, that’s fine.”

“When you put it to people like that, they say actually I’m not OK with it and it’s a case of encouraging them to vote,” she said. “I’m aiming for higher than 50%, because I think that there a lot of people who are upset about their pay and it’s a case of making sure we get to them all and remind them all.”

Getting creative
Stephanie has returned to work part-time following maternity leave and she says that by getting creative in terms of getting hold of members and making sure they have voted she has passed 50% turnout at her jobcentre. She has held 2 lunchtime car park meetings, stopping members to check they had voted as they went out for lunch.

“That showed me who the active members were. I could then use them to go and speak to other members and other members of staff while I’m not there. Members have been happy to do this and that’s been amazingly useful,” she said.

She also uses WhatsApp to stay in touch with member and regularly updates the PCS organising app to keep track of who has voted.
PCS President Fran Heathcote is clear about the importance of getting the vote out across the union.
“A big mandate doesn’t just strengthen us in talks on pay and pensions, it strengthens us in all the negotiations that PCS is involved in,” she said. “It’s about safety, permanency, job cuts and office closures. If we get above 50% we will be strengthened incredibly.”

Talking pensions
DfT rep Karl is of pensionable age and has a powerful message about the impact of pay stagnation on pensions.

“What people tend not to realise is non-consolidated pay affects your pension and my pension has stagnated and literally hasn’t moved from 2009 to today,” he said. “I haven’t passed the £11,000 threshold for 12 years, that’s made the decision to me to vote. We talk to younger members and point out to them that they don’t deserve to be in pension penury, which is what I’ve got to look forward to, unless I get my act together and get paid more.”

Karl, whose branch has exceeded the 50% voting threshold, has described his situation to younger colleagues and asked members how badly they have been affected by years of pay restraint, if they realise their lack of consolidated pay affects their pension and do they deserve more?

We need members to:
Log into PCS Digital to check their details are up to date so we can keep them informed about the campaign.
Use the PCS pensions robbery calculator and share the results with their MP
Get active in PCS
Vote in the online ballot.

Are you a DWP member in need of help or support?
Log into to PCS Digital to find your rep who will be happy to help you
Tell us how issues affects you, email dwp@pcs.org.uk
Recruit a colleague to PCS, they can join online right away
Read our frequently asked questions and answers for members
Support the PCS campaign where you are, get active in your union.

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11 March 2022 | Covid-19: Office safety guidance published (HMRC)
PCS escalates members' concerns as the phased return to the office continues, and publishes guidance on staying safe in the workplace.

PCS has received a number of concerns around returning to the office and the increased potential for contracting Covid-19. The majority of these concerns relate to increased occupancy levels and removal of the previous social distancing capacity limits. PCS has discussed these concerns with HMRC and ensured an awareness of members’ anxieties, which are understandable given the continued prevalence of Covid-19 across the UK.

Since returns to the office in England and Scotland started from 28 February, there has been an increase in the number of positive Covid-19 cases in HMRC offices. PCS closely monitors the number of Covid-19 cases and has requested Serious Incident Protocol meetings in four offices so far, following relatively high positive case numbers.

Existing Covid-19 policies will remain in place until the end of March and everyone returning to the office must have had a 1-to-1 discussion with their manager in line with the toolkit document. Anyone who needs longer working from home due to particular vulnerabilities or caring requirements should complete the Supported Return Plan, which is also part of the toolkit.

New case process

A new Covid-19 case process has recently been implemented for HMRC workplaces. Where someone has tested positive but has not been in the office within the previous 72 hours, the building management team will report the case to HR and take no further action. Where a positive individual has been in the office during the previous 72 hours, the building management team will report the case to HR and issue an all-users email to the site to notify everyone. This is in addition to any enhanced cleaning required or other building safety measures.

Workplace safety measures

PCS has been made aware that not all workplace Covid-19 safety measures are being adhered to. Following the removal of some safety measures, PCS has published guidance regarding the steps that should still be taken at all HMRC workplaces to ensure the health, safety, and wellbeing of yourselves and your colleagues.

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8 March 2022 | Time to end the 67-year wait for equal pay in the civil service

This International Women’s Day we call on the government to end the 67-year wait for the government to implement a pledge that there would be pay equality in the civil service.

Tory chancellor of the Exchequer Rab Butler promised parliament on 25 January, 1955, that there would be pay equality in the ‘non-industrial’ civil service by 1 January 1961. But 67 years on, as 20 March civil service pay gap day demonstrates, the gap remains and is currently 12%.

A report commissioned by PCS for the 2020 comprehensive spending review found that the gender pay gap in the civil service was 12% for annual pay and 10% for hourly pay. This means that women in the civil service effectively work for free until 20 March.

Women make up the majority of our union while suffering disproportionately from low and unequal pay. It is vital that we urge all women members to vote in ballot.

As well as using their voice with a vote, we need more women to get involved in this campaign and the union as a whole. Despite 60% of PCS members being women, they are not fully represented in our democratic structures.

We believe that it is clear that pay delegation has also led to pay segregation by gender; and that the gender pay gap can be reduced by increasing the pay of the lowest-paid workers.

In addition to a 10% rise and other demands, PCS’s national pay claim is calling for the way civil service pay is negotiated to be simplified. The government has designed a system that means there are 200 separate sets of talks for different areas. This has led to a deeply unfair, unequal and discriminatory situation that hits women badly, as well as other groups of workers.

Tell us how you the cost-of-living crisis is affecting you, email editor@pcs.org.uk

What members can do
We need members to:
Log into PCS Digital to check their details are up to date so we can keep them informed about the campaign.
Use the PCS pensions robbery calculator and share the results with their MP
Get active in PCS
Vote in the online ballot

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4 February 2022
Pay, Pensions and Cost of Living Campaign: Update Your Details

To: All Members Department for Work & Pensions Group
DWP/MB/025/22

PCS members will be contacted shortly in order to ask what they think about their Pay, Pensions and the Cost of Living.

Where members have a personal Email address registered with PCS, communications about this consultation will be sent to their personal Email address. This includes their voting paper.

Where members do not have a personal Email address registered with PCS, they will be posted a voting paper. They will have the ability to vote online but PCS will not have the ability to send reminders about the campaign to their personal Email address.

Be it regarding this campaign or others, from time to time we need to send communications to personal E-mail addresses or mobile phone numbers, so it’s important to make sure the details which PCS holds for you are up to date. It’s also important to make sure that other details such as your death benefit nominee are up to date too. If you are comfortable with dealing with your union affairs over an online platform, you should be able to update all your details using PCS Digital.

You can access your PCS Digital account from the PCS website: https://www.pcs.org.uk/ and selecting “Log in to PCS Digital”.

Your username will be a membership number beginning with the letter “P” followed by @pcs.org.uk. If you have forgotten your password, you can request to be issued with another one. If you have never had a PCS Digital account before, you can register one by selecting “register”. Finally, if you don’t know what your membership number is, please ask a rep in your branch if they can provide you with it.

Updating your details using PCS Digital
Please note that these instructions are based on the standard view of PCS digital using a laptop computer. These instructions may differ if you are accessing PCS Digital via a smartphone or tablet, but the functions remain the same.

When you have accessed your account, to check what details are currently on record for you, click on “my membership” in the top left corner of your screen, and then “my record”. The information PCS currently holds for you should then be displayed, such as your name, your National Insurance Number, the date you joined on and your job details. By clicking on “update personal details” in the top right corner of the screen, you can update your name or your national insurance number.

To update either your personal E-mail address or your mobile phone number, click on “update personal contact details” which should be the option to the right of “update personal details”. It is important you keep us up to date with any changes to your contact details.

To update other information such as your equality details, click on the arrow next to “update personal contact details” and click on the appropriate option.

By clicking on “my death benefit nominee” you can check to see who is currently listed and their relationship to you. You can update your nominee from the same place.

Updating your details without PCS digital
Many PCS members may not be able to access a PCS Digital account to update their details for various reasons. If this applies to you, you can provide new details to PCS by E-mailing membership@pcs.org.uk. If you need your membership number, a rep should be able to help.

Matt Cunningham, Group Organiser
Fran Heathcote, Vice President

--------------------------------------------

3rd Febuary 2022
PCS LGBT+ Committee Lunchtime Event

To:  All Members Department for Work & Pensions Group
DWP/MB/024

  
February 10th, 2022 - 12:30-1:30pm

As part of LGBT+ History Month, PCS LGBT+ Advisory Committee invite you to a lunch time event where we will be hearing from PCS Group Vice President Angela Grant on pay, pensions and the cost-of-living crisis. We also want to hear from you on how this continued pay restraint is impacting our LGBT+ members.

Come and hear how the union is campaigning to support our LGBT+ members and also hear our plans for a PCS LGBT+ History Month event ‘an evening of art and politics’, which will be held later in the month. 

All are welcome for as long or as short as you can make it, pop along and give us your views on the major issues facing PCS LGBT+ members in work. We welcome all contributions and comments.
                                                                     
Save the date and put it in your calendar. If you wish to raise any workplaces issues or make any comments but can’t make the event – please email bridget.corcoran@dwp.gov.uk with any questions and we will reply to your inbox.

We will hopefully see you all there!

Bridget Corcoran, Group Assistant Secretary  
Angela Grant, Group Vice President  
  

--------------------------------------------

2 February 2022
DWP Announces Permanent Opportunities for FTAs following PCS pressure

All members in Department for Work & Pensions Group and GEC | DWP/MB/021/22

PCS is cautiously welcoming the announcement by the DWP to give all service delivery EO FTAs the chance to apply for a permanent role. The DWP have stated that they want all EO FTAs to opt into the permanency exercise. The Permanent Secretary stated this morning that “This will include a light touch application and assessment process, open only to our fixed-term EOs. Our aim is to let you know whether we can offer you a permanent role with the department by mid-March at the latest.”

The DWP have outlined three potential outcomes for EO FTA staff:

1. FTA opting in will be offered a new permanent contract in their current location undertaking the role they are currently doing or a different one.
2. FTA opting in will be offered a new permanent contract in a different location and/or undertaking different work.
3. FTA opting in won’t be offered a role immediately and will be placed on a waiting list in case there are any changes which may result in a future offer of permanence being made. If no offer can be made prior to an EO FTA contract end date, they will leave the department on their planned end date.

PCS Position
PCS has been clear throughout discussions with the DWP that all FTA staff should be made permanent. Our members are facing ever increasing workloads and the pressure associated with particularly in Jobcentres, but members also report significant workloads pressures in all other areas of service delivery. Whilst the DWP’s current position of making the majority of EO FTAs permanent is welcome we will continue to argue for all FTA EOs to be made permanent.

PCS acknowledge that FTA members have already been through a formal recruitment process before being offered their current role and the union would obviously much prefer that members are offered roles based on their expression of interest rather than have to go through another selection process. PCS will continue to make these representations and argue for as light a touch process as possible.

DWP Permanency Selection process for the EO FTAs
All eligible EO FTAs will be invited to apply within a ring-fenced internal campaign for permanent EO opportunities, with EO FTA colleagues within a campaign location invited to apply regardless of their current role. PCS understand the campaign locations will include all FTA EOs working within boundaries of a Jobcentre District but not confined to EO FTAs working in Jobcentres.

FTAs will be scored, to create a merit list, based on evidence that they provide on 3 “behaviours” and on an online Situational Judgement Test. PCS has been assured that support and coaching will be available including dummy tests.

FTA staff on probation will also be able opt-in to the permanency exercise.

AO FTA staff
PCS was successful in getting over 6,000 AO FTA staff made permanent, however there was a relatively small number, 183 AO FTAs that were not made permanent. PCS is continuing to push for all these staff to be made permanent and are supporting these colleagues through the appeal process. We are hoping through ongoing discussions to persuade the department to make these staff permanent. If successful there will be no need for the appeal process.

Mark Page, PCS Industrial Officer
Martin Cavanagh, DWP Group President

--------------------------------------------

31 January 2022
Take care when using social media!

To: All Members in Department for Work & Pensions Group and GEC.
DWP/MB/018/22

Breaches of DWP Social Media rules have resulted in disciplinary action

Departmental Standards of Behaviour
DWP expects all employees to take care when using any social networking site at home, in your own time and using your own computer. The DWP Standards of Behaviour Procedure for ‘Participating online on the internet or intranet – Social Networking – Blogging or any other media’ warns:

• The simple rule to remember is that the principles covering the use of social and other digital media by civil servants in either their official or a personal capacity are the same as those that apply for any other activity. Social media is a public forum and the same considerations would apply as, say, to speaking in public or writing for a publication either officially or out of work. (Paragraph 31)

• …without proper authorization…avoid commenting altogether on politically controversial issues and avoid making any kind of personal attack or tasteless or offensive remarks to individuals or groups - i.e. anything that would cause offence to a reasonable person. This applies irrespective of whether you can or cannot be identified as an employee of the Department. In these circumstances, if posts / comments are considered inappropriate, disciplinary action will be taken that could lead to dismissal. (Paragraph 33)

• It’s important that we are all aware that posting any content that is considered inappropriate – whether in an official or personal capacity – may result in disciplinary action which could lead to dismissal. (Paragraph 35)

Civil Service Management Code
The Civil Service Management Code also requires civil servants to take care when discussing political issues and avoid jeopardizing their civil service role. The Code states that:

‘Civil servants…must not allow the expression of their personal political views to constitute so strong and so comprehensive a commitment to one political party as to inhibit or appear to inhibit loyal and effective service to Ministers of another party. They must take particular care to express comment with moderation, particularly about matters for which their own Ministers are responsible; to avoid comment altogether about matters of controversy affecting the responsibility of their own Ministers, and to avoid personal attacks’. (Paragraph 4.4.13)

Photographs and videos
Take care when posting a workplace related photograph or video on social media. A record of inappropriate behaviour in the workplace may seem, at first, to be ‘just a bit of fun’ to you but could be evidence for disciplinary action under DWP Standards of Behaviour or Social Media Policy.

Make sure that photos or videos posted on social media do not contain ‘secure data’ such as building passes, Wi-Fi details, personal information etc. in shot. Double check all images before posting.

PCS Advice for Members
When using social media, such as Facebook, Instagram or Twitter or You Tube or WhatsApp, you should be aware of the current DWP Standards of Behaviour for social media under ‘Participating online on the internet or intranet – Social Networking – Blogging or any other media’ (Procedures 30 – 42)

Normal disciplinary principles apply for social media related cases but there are some key issues that can impact the outcome of such cases, for example:

• How did you react when social media misconduct was discovered? Was an unqualified apology given? Was the offending material quickly deleted?

DWP Standards of Behaviour confirm that you do not need permission to take part in Trade Union activities in your own time but you will still be bound by rules on disclosure of information. The Civil Service encourages employees to join an appropriate Trade Union and play an active part within it. (Paragraph 55)

However, normal standards of conduct should be maintained at all times for all social media postings. Be polite – Imagine someone saying the same thing to yourself. If you would find it offensive then it is probably not a good idea to say it to others:

• Don’t swear or name call
• Never be defamatory
• Don’t threaten, bully or harass

Always pause before posting your views or re-posting someone else’s – Do you want all intended recipients to see the post? Think about how they’ll react.

Always contact your local PCS Representative for advice, support and representation before you attend any meeting for any alleged misconduct related to your use of social media.

David Burke, Group Assistant Secretary
Angela Grant, Group Vice President

Also, please see this page.

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31 January 22
Safety Update

To: All Members in Department for Work & Pensions Group
DWP/016/22

This is a quick update for members ahead of a more detailed briefing that will be issued once consultation is complete.

Covid 19 has not gone away and deaths are increasing daily but despite this the Government and DWP have decided that our offices should have amass return to work even though it’s not safe.

Since March 2020 The unions have negotiated numerous safety measures which were implemented. Many have been eroded over time. However, DWP has a duty of care for the safety of all its staff. PCS believes that the current drive to have as many people as possible into our offices makes them unsafe.

On Friday 28th January 2022 they intend to launch revised DWP overarching covid 19 risk assessment and JCFRA Covid 19 addendum (this needs to be reviewed with the other JCFRA and addendums). They are also launching a new site risk assessment for all DWP sites. They have assured us that all these risk assessments will be done in conjunction with local health and safety reps and that they expect them all to be completed by the end of February. None of the changes should be implemented prior to this process being completed. (Further information will be issued to reps re this soon as there are still some issues being consulted on).

All members have a right to see any risk assessment that they have to abide from. If there are no comments from your local health and safety rep, then it might not have been consulted on. If it has not been consulted the previous consulted risk assessment should be being used. Make sure you contact your local rep re this. The rep’s comments will show you what the union don’t think is safe.

In the meantime, we would encourage every member to do the following:
● In England its strongly recommended to wear face masks/coverings. In Scotland and Wales, you must wear a face mask/covering.
● Try to maintain a safe distance between you and your colleagues. PCS has stated on numerous occasions as you can’t maintain social distancing if you use red desks and that the employer is putting members at risk.
● In Scotland and Wales, the guidance is still work from home if you can.
● If you have underlying health conditions or caring responsibilities make sure these are documented in your 121 along with what the department are going to do to help.
● If you believe your office is unsafe make sure you let your manager and rep know what is going on in your office to make you feel this way.
● If you have Covid symptoms do not come into work and take a test. If the LFT is negative but you have symptoms get a PCR test.
● If you have been working in the office and you believe that is where you could have caught it, make sure that you complete the covid form (link below) and raise the issue via the Covid helpline. This is important as we are monitoring the positive cases and using this information in talks with management. We have been assured that this has the same legal protection as the accident form which is important if your Covid turns into severe long covid. Report Positive Covid-19 Test Result
● If you have concerns around Covid safety in your office, then complete a SOARS (accident report) either as a near miss or a workplace health issue stating what is happening in your office to brings you to this conclusion.
● If the work practices in your office are causing you stress, then you can complete a SOARS (accident report) stating the working practices that are causing you stress. You should also complete the departmental stress procedures which start with a stress self-assessment which you do on your own or with your local rep, before meeting with management to work on a plan to reduce your stress. Individual Stress Self Assessment Template.

Link for SOARS (Accident form) and Covid form SOARS (sheassure.net)
It's important to note that when you complete the SOARS (accident report) that you must copy your local health and safety rep in. It is your line managers responsibility to do this but not many do. Health and Safety reps are allowed to investigate all accidents and to manage trends. When a staff member states they don’t want TU involvement, the line manager must still send it to the local safety rep, but they should redact the personal information. This should be done for all members of staff including non-members.

If there are any issues that can’t be resolved locally, then contact leeds@pcs.org.uk and put safety in the heading and your email will be sent to the safety leads.

Stay Safe

Carol Revell            Group Safety Officer
Martin Cavanagh   Group President
Sarah Morton         Group Assistant Secretary

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31 January 2022
COVID-19: Protecting people who are at higher risk

To: All Members Department for Work & Pensions Groupand GEC
DWP/MB/017/22

PCS demands safety and equality
PCS is continuing to demand improved guidance from DWP for safety and equality at work for all members. PCS is especially concerned that members should not be expected to return to office working when they are at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19. If you were previously considered clinically extremely vulnerable from COVID you should be given extra consideration under GOV.UK guidance (last updated 21 January 2022) for Working safely during coronavirus (COVID-19). DWP acted on updated GOV.UK guidance for England. Guidance for Scotland and Wales has been now been updated from 31 January2022. But PCS has called on DWP to improve its guidance for managers for better compliance with Working safely during coronavirus (COVID-19). This includes:

• DWP must give extra consideration to people at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19, and to workers facing mental and physical health difficulties. When considering working arrangements, employers should take into account their other existing legal obligations.

• DWP must protect people who are at higher risk of infection and/or an adverse outcome if infected. DWP should give extra consideration to people who may consider themselves to be at higher risk and to workers facing mental and physical health difficulties. DWP must also protect other workers who are at higher risk and for whom additional precautions, advised by their doctors, should be considered.

• DWP must support equality in the workplace- to make sure that nobody is discriminated against. DWP must be mindful of the particular needs of different groups of workers or individuals. It’s against the law to discriminate against anyone because of their age, sex, disability, race or other ‘protected characteristic’. DWP must make reasonable adjustments to avoid disabled workers being put at a disadvantage.

DWP return to the office updates
On 20 January 2022, the DWP Executive Team published a “return to the workplace update” which informed staff that: "In England, we will resume the move to hybrid working from Monday 24 January. We are asking colleagues in roles designated as hybrid workers (including back of house and corporate functions) to start to return to the office, with the full implementation of hybrid working (average of two days per week over a four-week period) across DWP by the end of February. Most colleagues will have had one-to-ones with their managers prior to returning in the autumn, but if you have not, or there have been significant changes in your personal circumstances, you should have one now."

On 26 January 2022, DWP published updates for Scotland and Wales to confirm that from Monday 31 January 2022: "In jobcentres we will stop using the temporary adjustment that was put in place in December and can now return to our usual ways of working of seeing our customers face to face. We will resume the move to hybrid working. We are asking colleagues in roles designated as hybrid workers(including back of house and corporate functions) to start to return to the office, with the full implementation of hybrid working (average of two days per week over a four-week period) across DWP by the end of February. Most colleagues will have had one-to-ones with their managers prior to returning in the autumn, but if you have not, or there have been significant changes in your personal circumstances, you should have one now."

PCS has argued against these changes on grounds of safety and equality and will continue to do so. PCS is also continuing to demand improved guidance for members at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19. DWP has published additional guidance for colleagues unable to return to the workplace following consultation, but not agreement, with PCS.

Additional support for colleagues unable to return to the workplace
On 24 January 2022, DWP published guidance for Additional support for colleagues unable to return to the workplace: https://intranet.dwp.gov.uk/news/additional-support-colleagues-unable-return-workplace

This is guidance for additional one-to-one meetings at which members may state their case for working from home as a reasonable adjustment under the Equality Act 2010:

Following initial one-to-one conversations regarding a return to the workplace, some colleagues may still be feeling anxious about returning or experiencing barriers to coming into their workplace. When holding conversations with colleagues about returning, it’s important for these to be compassionate, empathetic, and supportive, ensuring that the DWP Values remain at the heart of everything we do. Managers are expected to make balanced decisions that consider individual circumstances throughout, whilst balancing these with the needs of the business and continuing to follow government guidance.

This guidance includes “Steps” for managers, starting with Step 0:

Step 0 – contact your HR Business Partner and explore these additional questions

Managers should ensure they’ve already had at least one-to-one conversation with colleagues regarding a return to the workplace, using the one-to-one template. If colleagues are “still unable to return”, managers are expected to contact their HR Business Partner and consider questions listed in this DWP guidance which include:

• What is the individual’s rationale for not returning? There is no “right” or “wrong” rationale - this is about getting a full picture of colleagues’ circumstances.
• Does the individual have personal circumstances that need to be considered, such as caring responsibilities or a heath condition? If there are health factors, would they be covered under the Equality Act?
• Has there been an occupational health referral? If so, have any recommendations been implemented?

PCS advice for members
If you were previously considered clinically extremely vulnerable from COVID you may have a disability which gives DWP a statutory duty to agree your continued working from home as a reasonable adjustment under the Equality Act 2010 (section 20).

A 'reasonable adjustment' is a change that must be made (or continue to be made) to remove or reduce a disadvantage related to an employee's disability when doing their job.

PCS is demanding that DWP must comply with the Equality Act 2010 and must protect people who are at higher risk of infection from COVID-19 and/or an adverse outcome if infected.

PCS is demanding that DWP must instruct managers to adhere to the Equality Act 2010 (s20) duty to make reasonable adjustments, including agreement to work from home, for those employees with disabilities previously considered clinically extremely vulnerable from COVID-19 and who are now at higher risk of COVID-19 infection and/or an adverse outcome if infected.

Contact your local PCS Representative for advice, support, and representation. PCS guidance for Representatives includes PCS Briefing DWP/BB/097/21 for advice on policy and law for DWP policies for working from home.

Members with urgent enquiries may also contact leeds@pcs.org.uk

PCS continue to hold the safety of our members as our highest priority. If you know of non-members that will benefit from joining PCS, please point them to the PCS website to join online:
https://www.pcs.org.uk/joining 

David Burke            Group Assistant Secretary
Angela Grant          Group Vice President
Bridget Corcoran   Group Assistant Secretary

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31 January 2022
DWP to offer further Employee Deal opt-in

All members in Department for Work & Pensions Group and GEC
DWP/MB/019/22

DWP have announced today that they have had a business case approved that will enable them to offer a further opportunity to opt-in to the Employee Deal to those members who chose to opt-out back in 2016.

We have no more details at this point in time, but we expect detailed negotiations to begin immediately.

This is a move that we welcome. PCS have continually argued, ever since ED was first offered, that there should be an option for people who opted-out to change their mind and them be given the chance to accept the terms of the deal. Many members have reported that they did not believe that DWP would come good on the protections that we negotiated as part of the deal, but have seen over time that those protections have worked for members with caring responsibilities and health conditions. Similarly, many members have told us that their circumstances, which they felt hindered their ability to sign up to the deal at the time, have since changed and that they would now sign up if given another opportunity.

The unions are due to begin discussions on this with DWP later this week, and we hope to have these concluded as soon as possible. We will engage in negotiations to thrash out the details of what this will mean and to get the best we can for our members. We will keep you updated on progress.

This business case only covers what DWP believe is needed to fund further opt-ins. We will continue our fight to get them to address other ED anomalies thorough the 2022 pay round, and as part of our campaign to get a decent pay rise for all.

Ian Bartholomew, DWP Group Secretary
Martin Cavanagh, DWP Group President

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28 January 2022
PCS condemn DWP move to ramp-up sanctions

To: All Members Department for Work & Pensions Group and GEC (for info)
DWP/MB/013/22

DWP announced the introduction of the ‘Way to Work’ campaign yesterday, which they claim is designed to use the strength of the jobs market to fuel the recovery by getting people back into work. ‘Way to Work’ will be targeted predominantly at claimants in the intensive work search group on Universal Credit. PCS refute the claim by DWP that this is all about supporting benefit claimants. The very fact that DWP are tightening the Intensive Work Search regime, and in doing so shortening the timeline for compelling claimants to look for a job in any sector from up to three months to four weeks, demonstrates that this move by DWP is nothing more than increasing the misery on the unemployed. Furthermore, in a disturbing development, DWP have advised that, “We are exploring whether we can make the existing sanctions be felt more immediately after the failure for which they have been imposed”.

For the past two years, DWP have been stressing the importance of supporting vulnerable claimants during the pandemic. This was stressed by them as an important reason to keep Jobcentres open as COVID-19 was still prevalent in society. DWP have stated that they will ensure that there are necessary measures in place to protect vulnerable claimants. As well as opposing the sanctions regime for every claimant, PCS will be pushing the employer to ensure that all vulnerable claimants are protected.

Benefit claimants hit hard again
The move by the Government to target Universal Credit claimants and make it easier for them to be sanctioned is yet another example of the most vulnerable in society being expected to pay for the pandemic. The removal of the £20 Universal Credit uplift in September, and the refusal to reinstate it despite widespread criticism, had already left many observers with the opinion that the Government are making the poorest in society pay for the furlough scheme and money squandered during the pandemic. History is repeating itself as the very same thing happened following the financial crash in 2008.

Sanctions regime condemned
PCS are not alone in voicing opposition at this attempt to target Universal Credit claimants. The announcement was immediately condemned by the main Opposition parties at Westminster as well as claimant groups and charities. The vast majority of PCS members, including our Work Coach members, are strongly opposed to the sanction regime. As well as being fundamentally wrong, sanctions are morally corrupt and have no place in a decent society. Furthermore, benefit sanctions make the job of the Work Coach harder as they will potentially face the brunt of any anger from those sanctioned. Since the Jobcentre network reopened to mandatory face-to-face appointments in April 2021, there has been an alarming increase in serious Fast Track Incidents which has the potential to be exacerbated by ‘Way to Work’. PCS will demand that no Work Coach or Jobcentre member of staff is put in any danger as a result of expediting the sanction process and that appropriate security is put in place.

No consultation with PCS
The PCS DWP Group Executive Committee (GEC) met yesterday and were deeply concerned that the announcement of ‘Way to Work’ was being discussed in the media before the union had been given the opportunity to discuss any of the detail with the employer. This is clearly unacceptable and was condemned unanimously by the GEC. The GEC agreed to write to the Permanent Secretary condemning the department for the way the announcement was handled and once again, repeating our fundamental opposition to benefit sanctions.

PCS campaign for a new Social Security system
PCS have, for a number of years, been campaigning for an overhaul of the benefit system. PCS fundamentally oppose conditionality and sanctions and in addition to working closely with claimant groups, will continue to work with the PCS Parliamentary Group and seek support from other trade unions through the TUC. We must all fight for a Social Security system that treats people with dignity, respect and fairness.

Ian Pope,                   Group Assistant Secretary
Martin Cavanagh,    Group President
Marie McDonough,   Group Vice-President
Mark Page,                Industrial Officer

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25 January 2022 | All members in Department for Work & Pensions Group
DWP/MB/010/22   

PCS 2022 pay claim and national ballot

We have sent our 2022 pay claim to the DWP permanent secretary Peter Schofield.

PCS members have done a great job during the pandemic. Now we face a cost of living crisis with inflation, energy bills and NI all going up so we want a proper pay rise.

The claim covers all staff in the Department for Work and Pensions, Health and Safety Executive and Office for Nuclear Regulation.

If the government is not prepared to act to tackle the cost-of-living crisis for its own workers, then we will have to action That’s why we are having a national ballot for all our public sector members from 14 February to 21 March.

This is not a strike ballot. It will ask members what action they would be prepared to take. A statutory industrial action ballot might follow later.

Our pay claim in DWP is

1) Cost of living rises
An pay increase of 10% and a single rate for the job for each grade set at –

Grade    Annual salary £
AA             20,476
AO             23,139
EO             30,966
HEO           37,290
SEO           47,632
Grade 7      61,921
Grade 6      72,933

2) London weighting
we are seeking a London weighting payment, incorporated into consolidated pay, of at least £5,000 per annum, with no detriment to anybody currently getting more.

3) A Living Wage
Underpinning all elements of our claim for 2022, we are seeking a living wage of £15 an hour.

4) Annual leave
We are seeking improvements in annual leave provision to at least 35 days a year on entry; with no detriment to any worker currently entitled to more than that.

5) Working week
We believe that the time is right to consider what the future world of work might look like and how workers might benefit from new technology and from more flexible ways of working. We are therefore seeking a significant reduction in the working week with no loss of pay.

6) Pay coherence
PCS has a long-standing policy of a return to national bargaining on pay and terms and conditions covering all workers in the civil service and its related areas.

PCS Digital
PCS is also pressing for DWP to address the large discrepancies that exist between pay for those who transferred in to DWP from BPDTS and members working in the digital group, and we will fight for pay to be harmonised.

Employee deal
We will continue our fight to get DWP to address the serious pay issues facing those who opted out of the employee deal, and the serious anomalies that remain following the deal.

Make sure you vote in the national Ballot
To make sure you get a vote in the national consultative ballot check your PCS personal details are correct on PCS Digital because the ballot will be by email.

Ian Bartholomew        DWP Group Secretary
Martin Cavanagh         DWP Group President

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20 January 2022
DWP Plan Mass Return to Work

To: All Members in Department for Work & Pensions Group
DWP/MB/005/22

DTUS met with DWP senior management first thing this morning to discuss the implications of the Prime Minister’s announcement that all Plan B restrictions in England are to be lifted from 26 January. We made it clear that the pandemic is far from over, and that there is no evidence that the country is yet moving into the situation where covid can be classed as endemic. DWP acknowledged this, but still believed that the lifting of restrictions makes it appropriate for them to return to how the Department was working before Plan B, and for them to press ahead with introducing Hybrid Working in back of house locations in England.

Return to business as usual
DWP confirmed that the Executive Team had met yesterday and reached the decision that all current easements in Jobcentres in England should stop from 24 January, and that they expect Work Coach appointments to revert to being carried out face to face from that date, with customers no longer being offered the option of switching to a telephony appointment.

They also confirmed that they planned to resume the move to Hybrid Working in non-front-facing roles, with 1-2-1s needing to take place, or be reviewed, urgently. They aim to have Hybrid Working fully implemented by the end of February in England.

PCS were forthright in our opposition of their decision, and that they should not be moving so quickly on any of these things. We believe that this move by DWP will lead to a significant increase in infections of both staff and customers. Whilst Omicron variant may well not lead to as many hospitalisations and deaths as earlier variants, this is still a very unpleasant disease, with many people suffering longer lasting symptoms. We pointed out that protecting people from hospital admission and death is only one part of the equation, and that DWP has a duty of care to protect its staff from any health and safety risk. Therefore, they should be doing all they can to prevent its staff from catching Covid as a priority. This move back to having more face to face contact, and more people in offices will only increase the risk to our members.

Without any hint of irony, DWP stated that they were acting appropriately as they believed that they trust the Government is acting “with integrity” and takes decisions “based on the science”.

Interestingly, these scientific based decisions only apply in England, as the devolved Scottish and Welsh Governments have not taken the same view as the UK Government.

Scotland and Wales
DWP confirmed that they would continue to act in accordance with decisions taken by the appropriate administrations, so this significant relaxing of restrictions will only apply to the way DWP operates its business in England. All current easements; working from home, offering telephony appointments etc. will remain in place in Scotland and Wales, until such a time as the Governments in those two nations change current restrictions.

PCS will be organising an urgent all members meeting to take place next week and will issue details shortly.

As this is a DWP Executive Team decision, members may wish to voice their concerns directly to the Permanent Secretary, who can be contacted via peter.schofield1@dwp.gov.uk

Martin Cavanagh - Group President
Ian Pope - Group Assistant Secretary
Ian Bartholomew - Group Secretary

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17 January 2022
Restart Scheme Eligibility Criteria extended. PCS continues to oppose outsourcing
.
To: All Members in Department for Work & Pensions Group
DWP/MB/003/22

The Restart scheme is part of the government's £3.7 billion Plan for Jobs, designed to address the problems faced by the labour market because of the COVID-19 pandemic. £2.9 billion is targeted at Restart. It is run by private companies including Serco, Maximus, G4S and Ingeus across England and Wales who stand to make significant profits from delivering Restart.

PCS negotiators have met the Labour Market Project Manager on several occasions to discuss Restart. We have questioned the processes in place for holding providers to account and escalating any issues with contracts. In response, we have been provided with a suite of provider management techniques, containing various tools that DWP can use if things are not going well with the contract from the provider side.

Below expected profile
A further meeting with Restart management took place on 11 January 2022. The business reported that of 7 January there had been 119,000 starts on provision. This figure is still well below the expected profile, at around 65%. They also advised that 15,000 had started in employment – recording their first earnings. DWP’s explanation for missing the targets for Restart is that the labour market is “buoyant” and the numbers of claimants eligible for support from the scheme have fallen below forecasts.

Eligibility extended
As a result of not hitting the numbers forecast, and political pressure, DWP have decided to extend eligibility from 12-18 months to 9 months plus on uninterrupted Intensive Work Search Regime from 17 January 2022. This will significantly increase eligibility.

UC automated selection functionality will be updated to identify claimants who have been in the Intensive Work Search Regime for 9 months plus. The extended eligibility criteria will allow also allow claimants to be referred to Restart Scheme when they have been through a self-employed Gateway Interview and found to be ‘not Gainfully Self-Employed’. This will include claimants who continue to report some self-employed earnings, or, who may be considering self-employment, but are not ready for a Self-Employed Gateway Interview.

DWP have opened-up dialogue with the providers to discuss the impact on costs because of extending the eligibility criteria. This should be concluded by April 2022, at which point they will move to new volume expectations.

Pressure on Work Coaches to make referrals
We have told the employer that members have reported pressure to make high numbers of referrals to Restart, whether those referrals were appropriate in individual cases. We have pointed to perverse behaviour reported by members in areas where there may not necessarily be the customer base for sufficient referrals to be made, for example to make minimum numbers of referrals per week. We have also told them members had indicated that the warm handover meetings do not add value, that they were under pressure and felt these meetings impinged on their time.

PCS is concerned that, with the extension of the eligibility criteria, pressures on Work Coaches to refer claimants to Restart are likely to increase. We urge Work Coaches to report to us via leeds@pcs.org.uk your experiences about such pressures, how these are affecting your ability to support claimants, any perverse behaviours in Jobcentres and testimonies regarding the levels of service we are getting from Restart. These examples will help inform our negotiations.

Waste of taxpayers’ money
It is clear that the Government and DWP want Restart to succeed at all costs which is why they have extended the eligibility criteria. PCS has serious concerns regarding the Restart Scheme given the history of similar schemes, such as the Work Programme, which demonstrated a failure to deliver results and were a waste of taxpayers’ money. PCS believes that this work could be delivered better and at less cost by Civil Servants and will continue to campaign to bring this work into the Civil Service where it belongs.

Steve West - Group Assistant Secretary
Ian Pope - Group Assistant Secretary
Marie McDonough - Group Vice-President
Mark Page - Industrial Officer

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04 January 2022
Improved flexibility for Work Breaks for part-time employees from 4th January 2022
To: All Members and GEC - DWP/MB/001/22

Improved flexibility to take breaks in the lunch period
PCS has reached agreement with DWP for improvements for how part-time employees may use their daily paid breaks time during the lunch period. The pre-2022 policy limit on the amount of daily paid break time that a part-time employee may use during the lunch period is abolished from 01/01/22. Where part-time employees wish to take a break at lunch time, they should be allowed to do so wherever operationally possible. Apart from any unpaid meal break they may arrange, part-time employees can also use some or all of their ordinary daily paid break time over the lunch period, which may include a single break up to their full pro rata allocation provided this is operationally possible and their line manager agrees.                                             

In addition to any daily meal break, employees in all parts of DWP, both Operations and Corporate, will have the opportunity to take reasonable breaks in normal, paid working time to help them maintain their health, safety and well-being. In respect of this, managers in Operations, Debt Management and the customer contact parts of Benefit Payment Systems Group will allow formal paid breaks up to a cumulative total of 30 minutes daily (e.g. 2 x 15-minute or 3 x10-minute breaks). For part-time employees the pro rata principle will be applied on the basis that the rate of accrual for these breaks for all employees will be at a rate of one 5-minute break for each hour of the employee’s working day up to a total of 30 minutes daily.

Flexible Working Hours Agreement (FWHA) Procedures Improved
FWHA Procedure 10.1 has been amended to state: 10.1 Breaks - Employees must have the opportunity to take a flexible meal / lunch break somewhere in the middle of their working day. In accordance with the Work Breaks policy, this will be a paid meal break for full time employees and an unpaid meal break for part-time employees. Where part-time employees wish to take a break at lunch time, they should be allowed to do so wherever operationally possible. Apart from any unpaid meal break they may arrange, part-time employees can also use some or all of their ordinary daily paid break time over the lunch period, which may include a single break up to their full pro rata allocation (as described in paragraph 10.2), provided this is operationally possible and their line manager agrees. The pre-2022 policy limit on the amount of daily paid break time that a part-time employee could ask to use over lunch was abolished. In any case, full-time and part-time employees’ meal breaks must not be taken at the beginning or end of the working day.

Work Breaks Procedure 14 Improved
Work Breaks Procedure 14 has been amended to state:  14. Breaks for full-time employees must be taken outside of a period defined as a lunch period for that employee’s working pattern. However, where part-time employees wish to take a break at lunch time, they should be allowed to do so wherever operationally possible. Apart from any unpaid meal break they may arrange, part-time employees can also use some or all of their ordinary daily paid break time over the lunch period, which may include a single break up to their full pro rata allocation (as described in paragraph 11.2), provided this is operationally possible and their line manager agrees. The pre-2022 policy limit on the amount of daily paid break time that a part-time employee could ask to use over lunch was abolished. In any case, full-time and part-time employees’ meal breaks must not be taken at the beginning or end of the working day.

PCS advice, support, and representation
Contact your local PCS Representative for advice, support and representation for any issues that arise for your access to paid breaks under the FWHA and Breaks Policy.

Members should use the normal Grievance & Appeal Procedures, with the right to be accompanied by a trade union representative, when they have a dispute about the application of the FWHA and or Work Breaks Policy in their personal case which is not resolved informally. Perverse decisions should be reported to PCS at the address below

Members with urgent enquiries may also contact leeds@pcs.org.uk

PCS continue to hold the safety of our members as our highest priority. If you know of non-members that will benefit from joining PCS, please point them to the PCS website to join online.

David Burke                                  
Group Assistant Secretary         

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News 2021