Dagenham MP calls jobcentre move ‘entirely unacceptable’
PUBLISHED: 15:36 26 January 2017 | UPDATED: 16:40 26 January 2017
An MP has criticised the government’s decision to close a Dagenham jobcentre and relocate its services to Barking.
Some 46 staff from Dagenham Jobcentre Plus, Chequers Lane, will move to Barking five miles away as a result of the Department for Work and Pensions’s (DWP) announcement this afternoon.
MP Jon Cruddas, who represents Dagenham and Rainham, said: “These proposals are entirely unacceptable, and I will be organising a meeting with the minister, Damian Hinds MP, to discuss in further detail the implications that the move will have on my constituents.”
The DWP says Barking Jobcentre Plus is only using 44 per cent of its floor space, which will go up to more than 90 pc as a result of Dagenham and East Ham jobcentres being merged with it.
No redundacies are expected for staff – who were informed of the closures this morning – at the centre, although a “very small” number of job losses will take place at other UK jobcentres.
Union officials have estimated that more than one in 10 jobcentres in England, Wales and Scotland will shut, putting thousands of staff jobs at risk.
The DWP said the jobcentre closures were necessary in order to provide a “more efficient service” with four out of five claims for Jobseeker’s Allowance and 99 per cent of Universal Credit applications now being made online.
The department also pointed out that 2.7 million more people are in work since 2010 following falls in unemployment.
Employment Minister Damian Hinds said 2,500 more work coaches were being recruited to “help those who need it most” and people will “have the support they need to get into and progress within work”.
He said: “The way the world works has changed rapidly in the last 20 years and the welfare state needs to keep pace.
“As more people access their benefits through the internet many of our buildings are under-used.
“We are concentrating our resources on what we know best helps people into work.
Today’s proposals include merging 78 smaller Jobcentre Plus offices in urban areas with larger ones nearby, co-locating around 50 offices with local authorities or other community services and closing 27 back office buildings.
The Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union said thousands of jobs will be put at risk by the proposals.
Its general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “Jobcentres provide a lifeline for unemployed people, and forcing them to travel further is not only unfair, it undermines support to get them back to work.
“We are opposed to these closures and will vigorously fight any attempt to force DWP workers out of their jobs.”
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