A union has criticized plans to close half of all Insolvency Service offices across England – including its site in Kent.
The government announced this week that it plans to cut 11 of its 22 centers over the next five years in a bid to save £20million.
The Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union says it is putting more than 300 jobs at risk. The offices will be merged to create regional hubs.
Among those set for the ax is the Chatham office which employs just over 50 people. During the 2014 reforms, it had already been merged with the Canterbury office.
The Insolvency Service is a government agency that supports businesses that have gone into liquidation as well as personal bankruptcies. It also investigates and sanctions any misconduct by directors.
The Chatham office is not expected to close until September 2025, a spokesperson has confirmed to KentOnline, and government officials say all existing staff working at the site will be offered positions at the nearest regional centre. These will be in London or Croydon depending on where they live. Consultations with staff have already begun who were told hybrid working would be available, along with financial packages to cover increased travel fares or relocation costs.
They also claim that the figures for potential job losses suggested by the PCS are not accurate.
A spokesperson for the Insolvency Service said: “The transition to regional centers will enable us to become a more modern and streamlined organization in the right places for our customers, allowing us to focus on improving our services while offering the best value to taxpayers.
“We don’t want to lose our great people, so there will be a comprehensive set of supports to help our people transition to new working arrangements over the next three to five years.”
Other offices across the country facing the ax are Plymouth, Bristol, Cambridge, Watford, Brighton, Birkenhead, Blackpool, Reading and Southampton.
PCS General Secretary Mark Serwotka said: “This is yet another blow to hard-working civil servants, who are treated with complete disregard by the government.
“Their work is constantly undervalued by ministers; these office closures closely follow the DWP [Department for Work and Pensions] office closures across the UK.
This is yet another blow to hard-working public servants who are treated with complete disregard by the government.
“We are not going to sit idly by and watch the systematic destruction of our public service before our eyes. We will fight these closures, as we fight the DWP office closures, because the cuts have consequences, not only for our members, but for those who use these important services.