Margaret Greenwood MP calls on government to pause plans for Jobcentre closures
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06 Jul 2017
Margaret Greenwood MP has called on the government to rethink plans to close around 1 in 10 Jobcentres throughout the UK.
Yesterday the government confirmed closure plans first announced in January with only minor changes and Margaret Greenwood MP, Shadow Minister for Employment, lodged an Urgent Question in the House of Commons to challenge the plans which was debated today (6th July).
The Department for Work and Pensions originally planned to close 78 out of 714 Jobcentres in the UK. It held public consultations on only 30 of the closures proposed and just 6 have been reprieved. Two Jobcentres that were to stay open have also been added to the closure list.
The closure of Hoylake Jobcentre has been confirmed and claimants there will now be transferred to Upton Jobcentre.
Of the original 80 Jobcentre co-locations with local councils, only 11 will now not go ahead. 30 out of 150 operational sites, for example child maintenance, pensions, benefit processing and contact centres, will be closed as well.
Margaret Greenwood MP said:
“Labour exchanges, the forerunners of Jobcentres, were the brainchild of the architect of the welfare state, William Beveridge, and were first created in 1909 by Winston Churchill.
“Jobcentres still have a vital role to play in supporting people looking for work. If implemented, these plans will be damaging to some of the poorest and most vulnerable in our society.
“It will mean that claimants will have to travel further to attend appointments and may be at greater risk of being sanctioned for being late or missing an appointment.
“The need to travel greater distances to the nearest Jobcentre will be especially difficult for people who are disabled or have children, yet the government refuses to publish the equalities analysis it has made of the impact of the plans.
“It simply does not make sense to close Jobcentres on this scale with the risk of the loss of experienced staff at a time when DWP is accelerating the roll out of the full digital service of Universal Credit.
“The roll out of the full digital service is already resulting in claimants spending long periods on the phone to the DWP or having to visit Jobcentres in order to resolve problems.
“The closure of Hoylake Jobcentre has been confirmed, for example, even though the DWP plans to introduce the full digital service there in November.
“Universal Credit will place other new demands on Jobcentre staff, such as assessing self-employed people to see if they have a viable business.
“The government also plans to require people in work for the first time to attend appointments to discuss how they can increase their hours if they are claiming Universal Credit.
“The government’s stock answer is that the overwhelming majority of people claiming social security now do so online, but that is to ignore the needs of people who don’t feel confident using IT or who don’t have easy access to it.
“These plans are ill-thought out and should be put on hold while there is proper scrutiny of the government's equality analysis.
"The government’s response to criticism of cuts to social security is that work is the best route out of poverty. Why, then, is it cutting employment support through Jobcentres which help people to find work?”