You may have seen reports this week of a successful Judicial Review challenge to the November 2016 changes to the Civil Service Pension Scheme.
Essentially the High Court have ruled that a Cabinet Office pre-condition to consultation on these changes – that redundancy payments must be reduced – was unreasonable. As such there was no genuine consultation and so the cuts have been held unlawful.
Cabinet Office has already stated its intention to appeal – and will attempt to stay any claims for payment based on this judgement pending that appeal. The ISU understand that Cabinet Office will also re-open consultation – although their tone is uncompromising, as they have already stated they believe it will make no difference.
The judgement has limited impact, only affecting staff who were dismissed with compensation after the November 2016 changes came into effect. We will do our best to identify and contact members potentially affected – but anyone concerned about this should contact ISU HQ.
The position of those who may find themselves facing compensated dismissal or redundancy before the appeal is heard is currently unknown. We are seeking urgent clarification on this, specifically as it applies to those members currently facing uncertain futures in Immigration Enforcement where, as previously reported, a Transformation process is now underway with several units scheduled to close.
Turning first to the ICE locations in scope, we are very grateful for sterling efforts at Poole, where alternative deployments are now largely in place for our members. However members at Peterborough and particularly Swaffham are at greater risk of redundancy. Rationale for this is that the majority of Enforcement demand is elsewhere, principally in London. This has always been the case, of course. Large population centres attract incomers, not all of them legal. But that isn’t to say we need no presence elsewhere. Immigration Enforcement has a national remit and must have capacity to respond wherever need arises. Closing offices and withdrawing from large areas of the country undermines that capacity – and we’re particularly concerned of the impact of that given the uncertain post-Brexit landscape we now face. Our view is that Enforcement should be funded so that they can maintain strong, visible presence in all areas of the country.
In the meantime significant changes are also afoot within the CFI network. This process will be phased over three years as CFI concentrate their resources into larger hubs, closing and merging some offices to create larger teams better able to handle more complex investigations. This begins with closure of Humberside and Belfast CFI teams. Both raise specific difficulties. Humberside was badly affected by the 2015 restructure – it is exceptionally difficult to see many of the same people in a similar predicament again now. For Belfast, local conditions and politics are unique and CFI closure raises a range of issues, not least around practicalities of covering this work from the mainland. Dialogue is ongoing for both places, as indeed it is in respect of locations like Stansted, due to close later in the process.
IE Intelligence are also closing posts in Humberside and Poole – because they no longer align with ICE Teams – and strategically are keen to focus more strongly on crime work moving forward. They’re currently considering how they best rebalance their resources to achieve that. Members have been concerned about the implications of this – but we have assurance that no further job losses are in prospect and that staff will be consulted on how this is to be achieved in the areas most affected, principally in Liverpool, Yorkshire and the North East.
We’re in close contact with IE senior managers about all of these changes. As difficult as the issues are, we appreciate their genuine commitment to engaging with us as we try to identify best solutions for members.
We very much appreciate these are intensely difficult times for all concerned and we’re doing our utmost to find good options – for enquiries and support please contact [email protected] and [email protected]
ISU National Chair