The Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) has said that thousands of Jobcentre Plus call centre staff will be striking on 18 April over working conditions and customer services.

Slightly over one in three of the union's 7,000 members at Job Centre Plus' voted in favour of the strike, with 70 per cent voting in favour of a strike on a turnout of 43 per cent.

The PCS said that senior managers at Job Centre Plus had "shown little willingness to resolve the dispute".

The PCS said that it wanted to end what it called "the target driven culture" and introduce more flexible working arrangements.

Jane Aitchison, the PCU's Department of Work and Pensions Group President, said, "We are being prevented from providing a good quality service to the public because of unnecessary and unrealistic call centre targets.

"We entered into negotiations in good faith because we care about the help and advice we give to some of the most vulnerable people in society. It's very disappointing that our management didn't do the same."

Mark Serwotka, PCS General Secretary, said, "With unemployment rising and welfare recipients being blamed for an economic crisis they did not cause, it is outrageous that standards are being driven down in Jobcentre Plus.

"Instead of punishing people who are claiming benefits through no fault of their own, the government should be investing in our public services to help get people back to work quicker and to help our economy to grow."

A spokesperson for the Department of Work and Pensions said, "We use performance measures to ensure that performance and productivity are high, and we deliver value for money for the taxpayer," reports the BBC.