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1,460 npower jobs go in India move

Energy giant npower has confirmed plans to cut 1,460 jobs under restructuring of its customer service activities, including outsourcing work to India.

The firm, owned by German company RWE, said it aimed to deliver a more "efficient, flexible and improved customer experience".

Work will be outsourced to Capita and Tata Consultancy Services (TCS).

Npower said its customers would continue to be served on the phone by people based in UK call centres, with back-office functions outsourced to India.

Npower's offices in Stoke on Trent will close, affecting about 550 employees, and one of three offices in Oldbury will close, making 400 workers redundant.

There will also be a number of redundancies at npower's sites at Rainton Bridge, Sunderland, affecting around 430 employees, and in Leeds, affecting 80 workers.

A site in Thornaby will close but employees will relocate to npower's head office in Rainton.

Much of npower's customer facing work will be outsourced to Capita, affecting 540 employees.

Npower said all phone calls would continue to be answered in the UK and people transferring to Capita would still to be based in the north east of England, with the same terms and conditions of employment as before.

Back office administrative activity such as checking meter readings against customers' bills will be outsourced to India.

Over the next eight months, about 1,460 posts will be made redundant subject to a 60 day consultation programme which npower will now be undertaking with all affected employees.

Enhanced redundancy terms are being offered and there will also be a full package of on-site advice and support, said the company.

Paul Massara, chief executive of npower, said "Today we have set out our proposed vision of how we would improve customer service, calling on the support of leading retail outsourcing partners.

"I understand that these changes would be incredibly hard for some of our employees and we'll be doing everything we can to support them over the next few months. This restructure is necessary if we are to deliver the levels of service our customers deserve.

"All calls would still be answered in the UK. We would have the flexibility to keep call waiting times down during busy periods, and continue to keep costs down so we can keep bills down."

Npower's 10.4% gas and electricity price rise comes into effect this Sunday.

The average household bill for a dual fuel npower customer will increase from £1,352 to £1,491 a year.

Energy firms have said they will cut price rises if the Government reduces green levies.

Price comparison firm uSwitch called on the Government to be clear what cuts it is expecting, and for energy suppliers to pass them on in full across all tariffs.

Ann Robinson, director of consumer policy at uSwitch.com, said: "Each successive price hike is taking us a step closer to hitting an affordability ceiling.

"When energy bills hit £1,500 a year almost four in 10 households will be forced to turn their heating off entirely, which has serious implications for quality of life and health.

"With affordability at crisis point, any reduction to bills will be welcome. But to ensure that all households feel the benefit I would urge the Government to be clear and precise in what cuts it is expecting. There can be no room for misinterpretation or manoeuvre, and I would urge suppliers to step up to the plate by passing the cuts on in full and across all tariffs. This will be vital if we are to keep confidence in the market growing."

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