Update: Union members feel pinch of Aspire job losses

Capgemini staff working on the Aspire IT contract for HM Revenue face losing their jobs as a knock-on effect of wider civil service job losses, their union believes.

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Capgemini staff working on the Aspire IT contract for HM Revenue face losing their jobs as a knock-on effect of wider civil service job losses, their union believes.

The IT services firm is consulting unions over plans for up to 600 compulsory redundancies – 20% of the Capgemini staff working on Aspire.

The move follows a restructuring of the outsourcing deal announced last week as part of moves to reduce HMRC’s IT running costs by 10% by 2010-11 – a saving HMRC estimates at about £100m a year – in line with targets set out in the government’s comprehensive spending review.

But Chris Morrison, group chair of the PCS union’s Capgemini committee, said that savings stemming from the Gershon public sector review meant 25,000 jobs were set to go across HMRC by 2011, reducing the demand for IT services. "That’s 25,000 less desktops to support. We [on the Aspire IT contract] simply don’t have the work coming through."

He added that at Capgemini, the union intended to “minimise losses for our members”.

Morrison said the government had used IT-enabled efficiency gains to justify the huge reduction in civil service jobs – although there were no big IT schemes in the pipeline for HMRC. "The government is talking to the civil servants, saying there’s brand new IT systems in the department and that’s why they can lose their jobs. But we don’t have any huge great IT projects. There are no major IT projects in the department now,” he said.

The Aspire contract was first drawn up by the Inland Revenue to replace its contracts with EDS for IT services and with Accenture for the huge National Insurance Recording System (NIRS2).

HMRC signed the 10-year contract with Capgemini in 2003 on the basis of the IT service’s firm’s £2.83bn bid. But a report from the Commons public accounts committee in June criticised the tripling of the estimated cost of the deal to £8.5bn.

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