Secret Government plans to axe over 5,000 civil service posts “could hit vital work being done by the SSI Teesside Task Force” according to Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland Labour MP, Tom Blenkinsop.
Speaking today (April 13th 2016) Tom said:
“Secret plans leaked to the Times Newspaper indicate that BIS Secretary of State Sajid Javid is now making plans to axe over 5,000 staff employed by his Business Ministry and agencies controlled by that Ministry.
“These losses are draconian – and could hit Teesside hard. He is, the report said, planning to cut 40% of all the staff employed by the Business Ministry – and crucially for Teesside is planning to take the axe to the Insolvency Service. The Insolvency Service is managed by the Official Receiver, the person and the agency put in place to oversee the affairs of SSI after the company went into liquidation in the UK, leading to the loss of the Redcar works and the staff there. The Official Receiver is still there as the formal administrator of the site, and carries a huge responsibility for the work over seen by the SSI task force – not least the disposal, remediation and possible future uses of the site. In addition, the Official Receiver still employs people on site, and some of those staff are crucial in monitoring issues like possible contamination and flood and groundwater control.
“Also at risk in the plans, according to the Times are BIS agencies like the Skills Funding Agency and the UK Commission on Employment and Skills – again both agencies which are important in maintaining the area’s skill base and – crucially – the oversight of the Government’s programme for apprentices, something important when we come to the future jobs market for our local young people.
“In a sense, the fact that these agency jobs are at risk due to the Government, is ironic, when we recall that at the time of the original SSI closure we were calling on Mr Javid to tell the Official Receiver to take action to secure the ironmaking plant and coke ovens on the site in the hope we could get a restart of operations if a buyer was in the offing. At that time we were told by Mr Javid and his deputy, Anna Soubry, that they could not do this, arguing the Official Receiver “was independent of Government”. How independent that person and his agency is, is now highlighted by this latest news, and shows the Government position at that time to have been deeply duplicitous.
“These latest round of cuts, if pushed through, will adversely affect the SSI Task Force, and I and my local MP colleagues will be pressing government to halt them.”