Northern Ireland

DVA closure: Redundancy scheme for Northern Ireland motor tax staff

Sign at DVA office in Coleraine
All DVA offices in Northern Ireland, including the headquarters in Coleraine, closed to the public on 17 July

A voluntary redundancy scheme for those who lost their jobs at the Driver and Vehicle Agency (DVA) in Northern Ireland is due to open in November.

More than 260 jobs were lost, mainly in Coleraine, County Londonderry, as services were centralised in Swansea.

The Department of Environment (DoE) has said 150 of those 260 have been found permanent work.

A further 110 staff in Coleraine are doing temporary work for the Department for Social Development.

This is due to end in December.

"A voluntary early release scheme is being developed to ensure any staff still surplus in December can leave voluntarily if they wish, or be redeployed to vacancies created when others leave under the scheme," the DoE said.

From 21 July, all UK-wide vehicle licensing has been delivered by the Driver Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) in Swansea.

The decision to centralise services led to protests when it was announced by the government in March.

The DVA had previously said that a redundancy scheme would be "a last resort".

BBC Northern Ireland business and economics editor John Campbell said: "The trade union, Nipsa, said it understands the redundancy scheme will be restricted to administrative assistant (AA) and administration officer (AO) grades.

"It said the scheme will most likely be run on a civil service-wide basis, but with geographic restrictions.

"It expects that staff will have four or five weeks to express an interest in leaving and that the redundancies will take effect in March.

"The union said it was 'extremely concerned' with the development and added that the scheme 'falls far short of what was expected of political representatives' in protecting jobs."

Grass cutting

The Department for Finance and Personnel confirmed a voluntary redundancy scheme was "currently being taken forward".

Meanwhile, in a separate development, the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) is to lay off some temporary staff as a result of budget cuts.

The agency, funded by the Department of the Environment, is responsible for maintaining a number of historic sites, water quality, waste and other environmental issues.

The jobs are seasonal posts and it it is understood permanent positions are not affected. It is not yet known how many jobs are going.

A spokeswoman told the BBC: "Owing to the recent executive decision to cut budgets, the Northern Ireland Environment Agency has had no choice but to release a number of temporary agency staff earlier than planned.

"The majority of these temporary staff were taken on for the summer months at a number of the NIEA visitor attractions.

"However, the NIEA is putting in place contingency measures to maintain service levels as much as practicable at these visitor facilities. This should allow the people of Northern Ireland and tourists to continue to enjoy them over the remaining peak period."

The news comes after a series of Stormont departments had their budgets cut in the June monitoring round .

Last week, Roads Minister Danny Kennedy revealed he has had to stop approving some new work for road maintenance, grass cutting and gully emptying.

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