Nearly a quarter of the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency's (DVLA's) staff face losing their jobs as the organisation accelerates its move to digital services, it has been announced.
Thirty-nine of the DVLA's regional offices will be closed, meaning that 1,213 staff who work in administrative and customer-facing roles could lose their jobs.
The consultation period, which was launched by the DVLA in December, closed yesterday. In response to the issues raised during consultation, the DVLA released a document entitled The Case for Change. The document stated its intent to "support the government's Digital by Default agenda", which was set out by Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude last month.
The DVLA said that the transformation to digital services will result in about £26m in year-on-year savings for the taxpayer, as it aims to reduce its annual operating costs by £100m per annum by 2015, compared to the 2010 baseline.
The changes will start from October 2013 and are expected to be completed by December 2013. The closures will happen in phases, with none of the regional offices closing until alternative delivery channels are up and running, according to the DVLA.
"It is hoped that some of the staff will be able to re-locate to the head office in Swansea. No offices will close until late next year when alternative services will be available either through its contract for front office counter services, online or directly from Swansea," it said in a statement.
A DVLA spokeswoman confirmed that it was looking to replace its staff with digital services but admitted that the DVLA has not yet started its transformation process.
"We are pushing ahead for the use of digital services but as the consultation has just ended we have not yet put in place anything for the transformation," she told Computing.
A spokesman from the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union described the announcement by the DVLA as "terrible" and said that the news came as a surprise.
"It was a surprise considering a public consultation that found 79 per cent of respondents wanted to keep the offices open," he said.
However, the bigger problem, he said, was that DVLA had not yet described what services will be used to replace the staff.
"DVLA want to get rid of the face-to-face service and replace it with online and telephone services but the problem is that they haven't been able to provide any details of what these services will be. If they had thought about [the services] then they are keeping their cards close to their chest.
"The statements that DVLA have come out with so far to the PCS, is that online services will be ready by 2014 and then 2017, and then that they may trial paper-based services first, are all contradictory," he added.
The move will not affect the DVLA's IT function as it is outsourced to IBM.