ABOUT 40 call centre jobs in the region are being saved after workers in the West Midlands declined an offer to move north, The Northern Echo can reveal. 

Npower staff at Rainton Bridge, Houghton-le-Spring, who were facing the axe following a major restructure announced shortly before Christmas, are set for a reprieve after the electricity and gas supplier confirmed it was moving roles from its Oldbury, near West Bromwich offices to County Durham in the coming months.

Last year, Npower launched a major restructuring which included plans to shut offices in Thornaby, near Stockton and Peterlee, as it moves customer service operations to Rainton Bridge.

Loading article content

The German-owned company is also making 1,460 redundancies across the UK, and shifting 600 jobs to India, about 400 of them from the North-East. 

As part of the cost-cutting drive Npower is closing some of its offices  in Oldbury. Staff at the site have been offered the chance to move to the flagship Rainton Bridge call centre, but The Northern Echo understands that only two people have taken the company up on the offer, preferring instead to take enhanced redundancy packages.

The remaining jobs will be transferred to the North-East from March when the firms consultation process is due to be completed.

An Npower spokesperson said: "Following the announcement of our planned restructure, we're currently undergoing a period of consulation with our people.

"Having discussed options with employees in the North-East and our Oldbury sites, we now believe around 40 roles currently performed out of Oldbury are likely to moved up to the North East in future."

Despite the recent job cuts Npower remains one of the regions biggest employers with more than 3,000 staff.

However, long running problems with its computer systems has seen the company deluged with complaints from customers about incorrect bills and poor service.

In December, Npower wrote to its 5.4 million customers to apologise for the substandard levels of service which means it props up watchdog Consumer Futures league table.

Npower's 253 complaints per 100,000 customers is eight times as many as top-rated energy firm SSE.

Roger Hattam, director of domestic retail business at npower, said:

"While we still have a long way to go, we're making good progress."