Following a three-week review, the Insolvency Service has announced it will close its Hull branch with the possible loss of 45 jobs.
This decision is part of an estate rationalisation programme across all its sites in England and Wales. The Insolvency Service says the closure of the Hull office is expected to save around £300,000 per annum.
Over the last six months, the Insolvency Service has rationalised its branch network by either relocation or merger. On Merseyside, the separate Liverpool and Chester offices were relocated and merged with the Birkenhead office on a new site.
The Insolvency Service says that, over the next few years, it aims to reduce its overall “physical footprint” by a third.
The union Prospect, which represents more than 440 staff in the Insolvency Service, said the announcement came as a shock to the 45 staff based in the Hull office.
The union says that, during the last year, investigation work carried out by the Hull branch saved the UK economy an estimated £2million and resulted in more than 20 directors being disqualified for a total of 100 years.
Prospect also claimed Hull is responsible for about one in 16 of all Official Receiver disqualification reports.
The Insolvency Service says that, as in other locations, staff were consulted during the review and their views were considered prior to a final decision being made. All current staff have been offered jobs at the Leeds branch, 60 miles away.
Staff that elect to transfer to Leeds will have any additional travel costs covered for the first three years.
It said employees affected by the relocations would be offered “help and support” and it expects to run a voluntary exit scheme for those who do not wish to or cannot move. Redundancies will only be considered as a last resort.
Yvette Hill, Prospect branch secretary, said: “The closure is a shock and a disgrace. The Hull office regularly takes on additional investigation and administrative work from other offices facing a spike in insolvencies or shortages of staff and is recognised by the senior management as a centre of excellence.
“The expertise of those staff being made redundant will be lost to the organisation. Dishonest directors will once again be able to sleep easily in their beds.”
A spokesman for the Insolvency Service said: “Our Hull office will be closed and our employees offered jobs in Leeds. The decision to relocate the office follows the need to reduce our estate by a third and reflects the reduced caseload we are handling.
“The needs of our customers are paramount and we will consider offering an interview facility in areas where we have closed offices. We will also continue to help the most vulnerable people with access to our services, irrespective of these decisions.
“We are not expecting any impact on our investigation and enforcement activities which last year, despite falling caseloads, saw 1,270 directors disqualified, the highest since 2010.”