Closure plans are attacked

Reporter: Jacob Metcalf
Date published: 10 July 2017

THE Government's announcement that jobcentres across the UK will close has been slammed by MP Debbie Abrahams

The MP for Oldham East and Saddleworth said the closures would affect up to 750 jobs as well as bringing additional travelling time and costs for job seekers.

Last week the Government confirmed that centres across the UK will close with further closures planned for 2018 and 2023.

While Oldham was rumoured to be on the closure list, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has confirmed there are no plans to close it.

The plans will see smaller jobcentres merged with larger ones and others co-located with local government premises, allowing the DWP the ability to offer a more efficient service, the DWP said.

They went on to say it would deliver savings of over £140million a year for the next 10 years with the support for jobseekers being strengthened this year as more work coaches are recruited in every nation and region of the UK.

Damian Hinds, Minister for Employment, said: "We will always make sure that people have the support they need to get into and progress within work.

"These changes reflect the fact that more people access their benefits online resulting in many of our buildings being underused.

"We're merging some offices and locating other jobcentres with local authorities to make sure that the welfare state and our employment support works for those who need it and those who pay for it."

However, Debbie Abrahams said there has been no answer from the government about how it will affect people using the centres.

She said: "The government is planning to force a million more working people to attend a jobcentre, under its plans for in-work sanctions, while simultaneously closing almost one in every ten jobcentres across the country.

"A decision that affects up to 750 jobs.

"There have been no answers from the government about the additional travelling time and costs people will face, how sick and disabled people will be affected, or people who are in low paid work facing 'in-work conditionality' if they receive tax credit or Universal Credit income 'top ups'."

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