Margaret Greenwood MP calls on government to halt closure of Hoylake Jobcentre
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19 Apr 2017
Major problems could be caused for claimants and Jobcentre staff if the government continues with its plans to close Hoylake Jobcentre according to local MP Margaret Greenwood.
Ms Greenwood, who is Shadow Minister for Employment and MP for Wirral West, has already raised the issue at Westminster and will be meeting the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) district manager for the Merseyside Region on Friday to express her concerns.
The DWP is planning to close Hoylake Jobcentre whilst at the same time also introducing the full service of Universal Credit in Wirral this November which threatens to cause major problems for both claimants and Jobcentre staff.
Margaret Greenwood MP, Shadow Minister for Employment, was speaking in a debate at Westminster this afternoon on the roll-out of the full service of Universal Credit which highlighted that Jobcentres in Newcastle where it has just been introduced have been struggling to cope with the demands it has presented even without Jobcentre closures.
Universal Credit is a new benefit which is replacing a number of working age benefits such as Jobseekers Allowance, Tax Credits and Housing Benefit.
The roll-out has seen repeated delays. So far the final completion date has been moved back 7 times; originally set for the end of this year, the department is now aiming for March 2022.
At the moment Jobcentres in Wirral do not deal with the full range of claims for Universal Credit as they will have to do when the full service is introduced here.
DWP aims for all claims to be made and managed online under the full service. However, the experience in Newcastle has been that it has actually led to increased numbers of claimants trying to contact DWP either by phone or in person at a Jobcentre to resolve problems created by the new service.
There have been reports of claims being shut down before they should be, of documentation provided online being lost and of conflicting information being provided to claimants about their claims.
Margaret Greenwood MP said:
“I am strongly urging the Department for Work and Pensions to shelve plans to close Hoylake Jobcentre.
“The DWP timetable for the roll-out of the full service of Universal Credit published in November 2016 said that it would be introduced in Jobcentres in Wirral in November 2017, with Hoylake one of those named.
“However, only 2 months later DWP published plans to close Hoylake Jobcentre, merging it with one of the Jobcentres in Birkenhead. Nowhere in the DWP consultation on the proposed closure was there any mention of the introduction of the Universal Credit full service.
“In places like Newcastle Jobcentre staff have been trying to cope with the introduction of the full service, but there have been major problems even without Jobcentre closures.
“My concern is that, when combined with the transfer of claimants from a Jobcentre that is closing like Hoylake, the introduction of the full service of Universal Credit in Wirral could be unmanageable.
“I am calling on the government to see reason. Its plans to both close Jobcentres like Hoylake and speed up the roll-out of the Universal Credit full service risk chaos for both claimants and Jobcentre staff.”