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MPs round on plans to offshore gov IT work

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MPs are cranking up the pressure on government to safeguard the jobs of up to 200 HP IT workers amid plans to outsource the positions to India.

Employees involved in the Adams 2 contract with the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) are in the process of training up a team from Bangalore which will ultimately replace them as part of a drive to cut the costs of the deal.

HP has already notified staff from Newcastle, Lytham and Sheffield of the plans – which first emerged last month – and entered into a consultation period with them.

The jobs are set to be transferred in August. However, North Tyneside MP Mary Glindon tabled an early day motion stating that the House had been "alarmed at the increased security risks of storing millions of live personal data files, including national insurance numbers, offshore".

The motion, signed by six other MPs from the region, also noted the "ethical implications" of cutting costs and raising the contract's profitability by exploiting lower paid overseas workers.

It added that any savings would be "exceeded by lost tax revenues and increased payment benefits... [and the House] notes that offshoring and in-shoring compromise the government's ambition to tackle the deficit through growing employment".

In an interview with regional paper Chronicle Live, Glindon said the government appeared keen to allow US tech monster HP to farm out local jobs.

"One of the issues is the loss of 200 jobs in Tyneside, but the other key issue is the security of sensitive information with confidential information, including NI numbers zipping back and forth between Britain and India."

Responding on behalf of the DWP, Chris Grayling, MP for Epson and Ewell, said DWP was still talking to HP about the Adams 2 contract with the results of the review "expected to conclude towards the end of the year".

"All aspects of security, including access to any data that may be required, will be part of this review. Proposed offshore activities need to gain a formal approval against stringent DWP, CESG – the Information assurance arm of GCHQ – and Cabinet Office requirements before being permitted." ®

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