Frank Field MP fights to save 98 jobs at Birkenhead benefits office
27 Mar 2018Birkenhead’s MP Frank Field is fighting to save the jobs of 98 people on fixed-term contracts at the benefits office in Hordan House, who have reportedly been told by their bosses that they will be out of work in a year’s time.
In a letter to the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Esther McVey, Frank said that the reports of job losses on this scale ‘trouble me for three reasons’.
‘First, it is difficult to think of a more gut-wrenching way for staff to be treated; not only in the sense that they could be out of a job in the near future, but also the confusion and anxiety that this [has] brought to their workplace.
‘Second, the potential loss of such a large number of employees puts at risk the quality of service that claimants can expect to receive from the Department. If anything, we need both for those staff to be kept on and for additional staff to be recruited, to provide an improved service.
‘Third, small businesses in Birkenhead Town Centre could suffer a heavy blow as a result of losing such a large number of customers who shop and eat in the area.’
Frank followed up his letter with a question on the floor of the House of Commons, on Monday, in which he said: ‘The Secretary of State has told me that the 98 members of job centre staff on temporary contracts in Birkenhead are going to be laid off because they have come to the end of their contract period.
‘We are having real problems with the roll-out of Universal Credit. I had five cases last week, including one involving a woman who had been reduced to living on 7p. Might not some, if not all, of those staff be redeployed to ensure a smooth transition from traditional benefits to the new one?’
Commenting after question time had concluded, Frank said: ‘I will remain active in seeking to safeguard the jobs of those 98 members of staff in the Birkenhead benefits office and, in so doing, to improve the service being offered to very vulnerable people when they are trying to establish a timely and accurate income.’