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CUTTING the number of permanent courts and tribunal staff by thousands to replace them with workers employed by agencies has been condemned by Labour as a reckless use of vital resources.
The Courts and Tribunal Service employed 2,005 agency staff employed this year compared with 1,193 last year, according to data published last week.
The figure stood at just 270 in 2011 and has shot up in the years that the Tories have been in government, according to a written parliamentary answer by Justice Minister Dominic Raab.
Shadow justice secretary Richard Burgon, who raised the question earlier this month, said: “This highlights the chaos at the heart of the government’s ideologically driven cuts agenda.
“It’s completely illogical that the government is axing thousands of courts staff and with that losing expertise and years of experience, while at the same time it is becoming increasingly reliant on agency staff.
“Given that the Ministry of Justice is facing the deepest budget cuts of any government department, this seems to be a reckless use of vital resources.”
The written answer said agency staff numbers had increased since 2012 partly because of a “reform” programme and the government’s workforce strategy to “maintain appropriate levels of workforce flexibility.”
Mr Raab said: “We expect the number of agency staff to significantly reduce as we implement the reform programme, redeploy staff and recruit to vacancies arising from the new structure.”
A spokesman for the Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) said: “This huge rise in the numbers of agency staff is a shocking indictment of the state of the courts service.
“PCS has been raising this issue for many years and again call upon the service to take steps to immediately rectify this by making these staff permanent.
“Running the service on the back of so many staff in insecure employment is a disgrace.”
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