Letter: No life of luxury for uprooted civil servants

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Sir: Some aspects of your report about the new Benefits Agency and NHS headquarters in Leeds need to be corrected ('Perks for civil servants prompt inquiry', 5 August). The decision to move the work and staff was a political one. It was based on the belief that jobs should go from London to the 'provinces', where jobs could be created and property would be cheaper. This we support.

No one who moved from London received more than the standard civil service terms that apply to a compulsory move of home, and the assistance this gives toward actual expenditure was rarely the total cost involved. Families were uprooted, partners had to give up jobs, children had their education disrupted. One thing they did expect was a reasonable standard of accommodation.

Instead, they moved into a building that was still being constructed around them and was a health and safety hazard. It is galling then to find everyone bracketed in the category of 'civil servants living a life of luxury'. Working conditions in Quarry House are already cramped, and an internal wall collapsed twice while staff were working near by. False fire alarms are a weekly, indeed sometimes daily, occurrence. The water supply is regularly turned off.

Facilities in the building are also not the perks they are made out to be. There is a sports complex with many excellent features but staff have to pay the market rate to use them. There is a shuttle service from the station, but it is not just for senior management; rather it was put on because of pressure from the unions after staff had been assaulted in the area around the building.

Yours faithfully,

MIKE SPARHAM

Group Secretary

National Union of Civil

and Public Servants

Departments of Health and

Social Security Group

London, SE1

6 August

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