Statement from the National Oceanography Centre

National Oceanography Centre

Staff reductions at the National Oceanography Centre

The National Oceanography Centre (NOC) needs to make savings – £3.5 million per annum by 2014–15. This has come about by a combination of an overall squeeze on the Natural Environment Research Council’s budget and the rebalancing of NERC’s spend from core national capability funding towards more competitive research programme funding. NOC has a total budget of £45 million and a total workforce of 540.

The centre is responding by both reducing staff levels and rebalancing its expertise to be able to operate effectively in a more competitive funding environment.

So far, we have made significant savings through voluntary departures, by not filling all positions when people leave, and through reducing operating costs, such as our energy and water bills. We are also working to further reduce support staff costs and building costs in order to maximise resources available for front line science.

A restructuring process within our Directorate of Science and Technology is now under way that seeks to make savings of £1.5 million in annual pay costs, which is around 35 posts. As a reflection of our long-term plans we are also looking to strengthen our capacity in emerging research fields. NOC is acting now in order to make these challenging but manageable reductions swiftly to avoid a prolonged period of uncertainty and to maintain and develop our position as a world leading oceanographic institution.

We have identified a group of staff “at risk” of redundancy, using a range of criteria agreed with the relevant trade unions, and those staff were informed yesterday. We are now calling for volunteers for early release before deciding if we need to also have a compulsory redundancy phase.

We are working with trades unions and NOC’s owners, the Natural Environment Research Council, to ensure that this process follows best HR practice. We are also ensuring that two-way communication and appropriate structures are in place to support staff through what is a difficult and uncertain period.