Justice and Home Office: Hundreds of staff to be relocated from capital

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The Independent Online

Hundreds of civil servants working in the courts and justice system are to lose their jobs or face relocation after Jack Straw announced the abolition of a third of his department's agencies.

The bodies to be abolished by the end of the year include the Inspectorate of Courts Administration and 19 Courts Boards which advise the Lord Chancellor on the business of running the justice system. Senior civil servants' posts in the Ministry of Justice are to be axed while other mandarins will take pay cuts.

A further 1,000 civil servants of all grades are to have their posts relocated to outside London and the South-east.

The cuts are part of £343m of savings as the departmental contribution towards £11bn savings that are being made across government.

The reforms drew criticism from union leaders who complained that the relocation will cost jobs and force some staff to seek alternative work because their families were unwilling or unable to move.

Jonathan Baume, general secretary of the FDA, the union representing senior civil servants, said: "The Government has failed to set out the real level of cuts that are facing government departments and the wider public sector. Individual departments have announced some dramatic cuts, which have not been previously discussed with unions or staff."

He added: "The pre-Budget report in December 2009 acknowledged that most departments would face cuts in the region of 17 per cent over three years. Until a Comprehensive Spending Review is conducted, we are merely seeing the tip of the iceberg and public servants will have no certainty about their job security and career prospects."

A spokesman for the Public and Commercial Services union said: "Relocation should be done with the consent of the workforce. The Government also needs to recognise that people have family ties and many are dual earners, with the partners of civil servants having a job in London. Civil servants should not be forced out of a job at the whim of politicians – there needs to be a sound business case."

The Ministry of Justice said the cuts would enable the department to reduce its London estate from 18 buildings to four, with savings reaching £41m by 2015.

The Home Office also announced cuts of £350m a year by March 2013 from reforms in the department and its agencies. Ministers said there would be a £90m saving at the UK Border Agency through increased operational productivity, for example by improving case management systems to speed up asylum cases.

The police overtime bill of £500m a year will be cut by £70m, the Home Secretary confirmed yesterday. This would be achieved through improved shift patterns and better deployment of resources.