Birkenhead's MP is fighting to save the jobs of 98 people on fixed-term contracts at the benefits office in Hordan House.

Staff have been told by their bosses that they will be out of work in a year’s time.

Frank Field says the scale of the cuts will affect benefit claimants already encountering Universal Credit problems - one female constituent has told him she has been reduced to penury and is living on 7p a day.

And he believes staff have been treated shabbily.

In a letter to the secretary of state for work and pensions, Esther McVey - former Tory MP for Wirral West -  Mr Field said job losses on this scale "trouble me for three reasons."

He said: "First it is difficult to think of a more gut-wrenching way for staff to be treated. Not only in the sense that they could be out of a job in the near future, but also the confusion and anxiety this brought to their workplace.

‘Second, the potential loss of such a large number of employees puts at risk the quality of service that claimants can expect to receive from the department.

"If anything we need both for those staff to be kept on and for additional staff to be recruited, to provide an improved service.

‘Third, small businesses in Birkenhead town centre could suffer a heavy blow as a result of losing such a large number of customers who shop and eat in the area."

The campaigning MP followed up his letter with a question on the floor of the House of Commons on Monday.

He said: "We are having real problems with the roll-out of Universal Credit. I had five cases last week, including one involving a woman who had been reduced to living on 7p.

"Might not some if not all of those staff be redeployed to ensure a smooth transition from traditional benefits to the new one?"

In her letter of reply seen by the Globe, Ms McVey wrote: "DWP regularly reviews its workforce demand requirement based on forecast customer volumes.

"Our forecast for 2018/19 indicate that we have sufficient people within the organisation and so my officials took the decision to end a number of FTA [Fixed Term Appointment] contracts.

"I appreciate that ending FTA contracts can be unsettling for those impacted and DWP have therefore followed through on a commitment to these employees by giving them an early indication of the intention to let contracts come to a natural end.

"It is important to point out that extension of FTA contracts and conversion to permanent positions is not our default position and is not a guarantee under the terms of their appointment. "

Ms McVey concluded: "There has been no decision to target Birkenhead specifically - our decisions are driven by forecasts.

"There are currently 47 live government recruitment campaigns alone in this region for over 1,200 vacancies and local insight suggests this is likely to treble in the near future.

"As the workforce demand requirement is based on the customer volumes forecasts I am confident that the quality of service for claimants will remain high."