Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page:

From The Socialist newspaper, 9 November 2016

Courts and tribunal services face huge cuts

Members of public sector union PCS fighting cuts in the justice sector, photo by Paul Mattsson

Members of public sector union PCS fighting cuts in the justice sector, photo by Paul Mattsson   (Click to enlarge)

Tessa Warrington, PCS Ministry of Justice group executive committee member

Huge changes are afoot in the civil service that will leave jobs slashed and public services a husk of their former selves. Given that 86,000 jobs have already been axed from the civil service over the past five years, this may seem like old news but the scale and scope of the Tories' austerity-driven changes are only now being revealed.

I work in the county court and it has recently been announced that over the next six years HM Courts and Tribunal Service staffing will be cut by one third. However, the Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) puts estimates closer to 50%. I look around my office and imagine half of us disappearing. It is terrifying.

We are being sold these cuts as part of the 'Reform' project, which will leave the justice system almost unrecognisable. Courts will no longer exist as they do now. Instead there will be hearing centres with no admin staff and no specialisation, dealing with every jurisdiction of law.

The recent court closure programme got rid of 86 courts but another 250 are now slated for closure. All queries will be handled by bulk customer service centres, in reality call centres.

1 billion is being invested in this transformation, primarily into updating IT so that functions that staff currently perform can be digitally replaced with new programmes and service users doing the work themselves online.

The justice sector leaves a lot to be desired and improved IT is sorely needed but it is the motivation behind these changes that concerns me. The 1 billion has only been agreed in return for ongoing cuts in departmental spending of a quarter of a billion a year.

Staff nationally are being forced to attend workshops called 'One Conversation' where we are pressured by upper management to be subservient and help carry through these changes. One staff member was even threatened with being down-graded on performance for having their arms crossed as this was perceived as negative!


We know that 'Reform' is not for the benefit of the public but a further degrading of a public service to save money. Cuts to Legal Aid and the Citizens Advice Bureau have already left access to justice non-existent for those who cannot afford it.

Further reliance on online processing will replicate the 'Digital by Default' scenario illustrated in Ken Loach's new film 'I, Daniel Blake' where those who are not IT literate or can't afford access to the internet are penalised.

However, this is just part of the national picture in the civil service, which across the board is showing a trend towards centralisation on a massive scale.

My partner works in HMRC where they are going nationally from 148 offices to 17 regional hubs. His office is down to close in 2021 and we could both be out of our jobs at the same time.

It's a good job we're both socialists! We should never accept that cuts are a foregone conclusion - workers have the power to stop them in their tracks.

Public sector unions urgently need to come together in joint industrial action not only to defend the civil service but our libraries, schools, emergency services and the NHS, all of which are under attack from austerity. This could be a first step towards a one-day general strike and a strategy to bring down the Tory government.

Donate to the Socialist Party

Coronavirus crisis - Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • Our 'fighting coronavirus workers' charter', outlines a programme to combat the virus and protect workers' living conditions.
  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.
We therefore urgently appeal to all our viewers to donate to our special coronavirus appeal.

Please donate here.

All payments are made through a secure server.

My donation


Your message: 


In The Socialist 9 November 2016:

High Court Brexit bombshell

Bosses' government, bosses' EU...fight for socialism

High Court bombshell on Brexit decision

Socialist Party news and analysis

Stop the 54,000 yearly maternity sackings

Build housing for the kids without homes this Xmas

Unions must act on pay restraint!

Court slams Tory air quality plans

Them & Us

Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Build the education fightback

Read the Socialist

Over a thousand march to fight museums and libraries cuts

Library cuts: working class kids suffer most

Momentum left meeting excludes socialists

New Socialist Party pamphlet: Fight racism, fight for socialism

Far-right given short shrift in Darlington

Obituary: Hilary Mooney 1945-2016

Socialist Party workplace news

Action needed to defend workers at the sharp end of prisons crisis

Courts and tribunal services face huge cuts

Newcastle council cuts: opportunity for trade union fightback

Birmingham's Labour council freezes workers' pay

Hackney Picturehouse strike

International socialist news and analysis

Turkey: Erdogan tightens repressive screw

Ireland: Gardai strike threat

South Africa: State victimises #OutsourcingMustFall activists

Socialist Party comments and reviews

Horror of health-wrecking toil for Polish migrants

HyperNormalisation: Arbitrary selection of ideas to confirm feelings of powerlessness

Socialist inbox


Home   |   The Socialist 9 November 2016   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate   |   Audio  |   PDF  |   ebook

Related links:

Ministry of Justice:

triangleMoJ cleaners' covid outbreak

triangleRenationalisation of the probation service

triangleStand up against abuse - justice not racism

triangleLondon cleaners' strike: 'Pay us a living wage!'

triangleMOJ pay offer: robbing Peter to pay Peter


triangleNottingham unions fight council job cuts

triangleJohnson blames care workers for deaths

triangleLeeds City Council in danger of bankruptcy

triangleNews in brief

Civil Service:

trianglePCS pay claim: Vital work unrecognised

triangleShould the Socialist still be produced during the Corona crisis? An exchange with Mark Serwotka about sales of the Socialist

triangleMore than ever, we need accountable union leaders


triangleThem and us

triangle3bn green pledge: not enough for climate or jobs


triangleBoris's new big deal


triangleJobcentre reopening: only union struggle will put safety first

Legal aid:

triangleJoin the fight for refugee rights


trianglePCS: "Under the right leadership workers are prepared to fight"

Public services:

triangleCoronavirus - a workers charter 2020

Public sector:

triangleSouth Africa: Building jobs and living wage campaign

Reports and campaigns

Reports and campaigns



UCU: election victory for combative rank and file



Fantastic virtual NSSN conference: "Fight for our lives and livelihoods''


Socialist Party

The best place to start - join the Socialist Party


Trans rights

Trans rights protests oppose Tory backsliding


Black Lives Matter

Black Lives Matter - the fight is not over


Equal pay

Homerton hospital workers deserve equal pay and conditions



Jobcentre reopening: only union struggle will put safety first


Tower Hamlets

Tower Hamlets council workers strike against wholesale attack on terms and conditions



Nottingham unions fight council job cuts



Bangladesh: Stop closure and privatisation of Jute Mills


Fighting Fund

Fighting Fund: Target smashed by half time



Change in leadership needed to secure union's future


Black Lives Matter

BLM has not stopped - protesters flock to Socialists


Ken Douglas

Red flags line road for Ken



Leeds City Council in danger of bankruptcy

triangleMore Reports and campaigns articles...

Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube



Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777


Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 079 8202 1969

East Mids: 077 3797 8057

London: 07748 534 891

North East: 078 4114 4890

North West 079 5437 6096

South West: 077 5979 6478

Southern: 078 3368 1910

Wales: 079 3539 1947

West Mids: 024 7655 5620

Yorkshire: 077 0671 0041



Alphabetical listing

July 2020

June 2020

May 2020

April 2020

March 2020

February 2020

January 2020