BIS confirms Sheffield office closure

The Department for Business and Skills (BIS) office in Sheffield will close by 2018, the department confirmed today.

BIS said closing the office, located on St Paul’s Place, would “modernise” how they worked and save £350m by 2020.

BIS officials had to walk through a picket line of striking workers to make the announcement at their Sheffield office, following previous strikes yesterday and on 19 May.

According to the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCSU), which led the strikes, they had to abandon a planned meeting because no one was in the building.

Martin Donnelly, permanent secretary to the department, said the decision, made following consultation with staff and unions, had not been “made lightly” and staff would be “fully supported” in deciding their next steps.

“Making a decision which impacts on people’s lives and families is never easy,” he added.

Donnelly has previously been criticised by MPs for failing to reveal the predicted job losses as a result of the office closure.

Mark Serwotka, general secretary of the PCSU, said: “This is a shameful decision that flies in the face of what the government claims to want for the north and the wider civil service.

“As a northern powerhouse city, ministers should be investing in jobs in Sheffield, not devolving them back to central London.

“We do not believe there is any money to be saved by closing this office, it could actually end up costing more, and we will continue to campaign to reverse the decision.”

Lois Austin, PCSU industrial officer, said: “This decision affects not just BIS Sheffield and the regional offices but also the city of Sheffield as a whole, where jobs are being ripped out across the public and private sector. It will be reduced to a 1980s ghost town if the government has its way.”

BIS said that staff will remain in post until January 2018 and be offered financial assistance for travel if they chose to take up a post in London, as well as career coaching, and time off to look for other jobs.

It added that those who chose to leave would receive “the best exit terms currently available in the Civil Service”.

(Image c. Stefan Rousseau from PA Archive/ Press Association Images)

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