Workers at the Sopra Steria-run UK government shared services centre received an early Christmas present this week: the opportunity to apply for voluntary redundancy.
The Shared Services Connected Limited (SSCL) entity was set up as a joint venture four years with the Cabinet Office to consolidate back office services across government. It is 75 per cent owned by Steria.
In an email seen by The Register, the French outsourcer informed staff it had undergone a service review which "indicated" a number of mid-level roles would be impacted. "However, we may have to reorganise at a middle and senior management level," it said.
"We have therefore agreed to launch a Voluntary Exit programme to address the requirement to reorganise, and potentially reduce the headcount at these Career Framework levels.
"There may be limited funding available, but the scheme is being run to gauge interest in the number of employees who work for SSCL Price or the Central Corporate functions."
According to its full-year company accounts, SSCL turned over £187.5m in 2016 and made a loss of £3.81m. It paid out £58.9m in employee costs to 1,500 staff for the year.
For employees who are subject to the Civil Service 2010 exit schemes, the voluntary exit "will be offered on enhanced Voluntary Redundancy terms". Those who haven't transferred over from the public sector, won't get the gold-plated deal.
Staff have until the end of the week to put their bids in for redundancy.
One insider described the move as a "pretty big voluntary redundancy programme".
He said: "I think this was always on the cards, potentially a nice Christmas present for those wanting out though."
The programme had 300,000 government users at the end of 2016. Along with the Home Office and the Ministry of Justice, the Metropolitan Police has signed up to SSCL, axing hundreds of jobs in the process.
However, the National Audit Office revealed last year that while the shared services centres – run separately by IT provider Arvato and Sopra Steria – had saved departments £90m over two-and-a-half years, they have also cost £94m due to escalating costs and delays.
A number of departments have also pulled out of the programme.
An SSCL spokesman said: "As SSCL completes its transformation programme and continues to streamline services for government, it regularly reviews its organisation structures. The recently launched voluntary exit programme forms part of this ongoing review and PCS and Unison have been informed."
The Register has asked the Cabinet Office and Steria for a comment. ®