MP meets executive in bid to find work for civil servants

North Northumberland’s MP Sir Alan Beith is continuing the fight to find work for civil servants whose jobs are at risk following a part-privatisation.

In his efforts to keep jobs at Alnwick’s Defra offices, the Liberal Democrat MP has met Steria’s senior executive, John Torrie, to discuss the future of the town’s Lion House operations.

During their meeting, Mr Torrie repeated the relevant Minister’s assurance that work will continue at the office for the next 20 months, during which the company will be looking to see whether some or all of the existing work and possibly new work can be located there.

Following the meeting, Sir Alan said: “I am pressing the company and Defra to bring more work to the Alnwick office where the quality and loyalty of the staff are well recognised.

“As the department in charge of rural affairs, Defra needs to be promoting jobs in rural centres and moving them out of London and other urban locations.”

In October, we reported that 41 civil service jobs were at risk, alongside claims that work would be outsourced to India.

The Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) told the Gazette that positions at Defra’s Lion House were affected as the Cabinet Office wa setting up a new limited company to carry out back-office work within the department and the DWP (Department for Work and Pensions) nationwide. It also threw the future of the state-of-the-art building, which opened in 2009, into doubt.

And following a recent announcement on the Government’s Shared Service Centre programme, the employees have been transferred to a new business, SSCL, which is 75 per cent owned by French company Steria.

The new company has been given 20 months to continue working from Alnwick and Sir Alan is pressing for more work to be found for the Northumberland base.