British social benefits claimants may soon have their telephone enquiries handled by call centres in India, according to The Guardian.
Reporting on the contents of a document leaked from the government Department of Work and Pensions to the Public and Commercial Services Union, the paper said the government was in talks with companies including Siemens Business Services to do the outsourcing.
The report claimed John Hutton, secretary of state, was under pressure to contract government services to offshore locations in order to make £1bn of savings demanded by the Treasury.
The plans were "advanced" said union boss Mark Serwotka. He noted that calls to the DWP were already taken by a call-centre in Pembroke Dock, Wales.
There would there be no technical challenge in moving the work overseas, he said. But the union had not been consulted.
"It shows that plans to offshore work are well advanced and proves there are no no-go areas for the government in trying to achieve its efficiency targets, reduce costs and cut jobs."
A DWP spokeswoman said there were no plans to move any of its services overseas. But providers of some services, such as IT, might provide services from offshore locations and whether they did so was their own business.®