The Home Office has been accused of misleading its staff over job cuts.

According to the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union, which was looking to ballot its members over industrial action in response to job cuts, the director general of human resources at the Home Office Kevin White was not being entirely straight when he said the Home Office was “committed to dialogue”. The union reckoned that plans for cuts were already well in hand when White said this.

In a message to staff on 24 February, White wrote: “The “decision of PCS to ballot its members is very disappointing, particularly given that the permanent secretary has already agreed to meet the union at the end of March to discuss their concerns. We are committed to continuing this dialogue. This ballot can serve no useful purpose at a time when we are working hard to finalise workforce plans in response to the demands of the spending review and when we have already committed to avoiding the use of compulsory redundancies wherever possible.”

However, the union said, before any talks have taken place, the Home Office announced to staff in Croydon that it wanted to cut 776 of 1,453 UK Border Agency posts. Combined with planned job cuts in offices in Liverpool and Sheffield, the Home Office has so far announced that it will cut 8,500 jobs by 2015. PCS said these cuts are bound to include compulsory redundancies but the union has an agreement with the Cabinet Office to help departments avoid them.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “It is clear the Home Office has had its plans finalised for some time, it simply refused to tell us about them. This is a disgraceful way to treat your workforce at any time, but it is particularly shameful when people’s livelihoods are under huge threat because of the government’s ideological decision to cut public spending.”