MP hits out at decision to close Jobcentre

A decision to close a job centre as part of a cost-saving merger has been criticised by a local MP.

Thursday, 9th February 2017, 7:30 am
Updated Tuesday, 28th February 2017, 11:47 am
Job Centre on Whitley Road, Whitley Bay

The Jobcentre Plus office in Whitley Bay is one of 78 being closed by the Government.

Officials at the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) says the move is to help save money, with the centre being merged with nearby Jobcentre Plus in Camden Street, North Shields.

But Tynemouth MP Alan Campbell has hit out at the move, saying it is causes disruption to the unemployed.

Mr Campbell said: “I think it’s reckless for the Government to close so many Jobcentres at a time when it is more important than ever to provide support for people looking for work.

“Claimants from places like Whitley Bay will be forced to travel further to sign on and in many cases will incur increased travel costs that DWP will not reimburse.

“Living on benefits, these are costs they cannot and should not have to afford whilst also risking harsh sanctions if people are unable to keep appointments.

“I’m always concerned when services and amenities are taken out of the town. Whitley Bay Jobcentre is also a relatively new building which also raises questions about the cost-effectiveness of the move.

“I’m calling on the Government to think again.”

The DWP said no jobs would be lost as a result of the closure, with staff from Whitley Bay transferring to North Shields, and they were looking to take on more staff.

The move aims to reduce the amount of under-used office space, with more claims being made online.

A DWP spokesperson said: “With eight out of ten Jobseeker’s Allowance claims now made online and 20 per cent of our office space underused we are streamlining our estate, which will save taxpayers £1.8billion.

“This year we are hiring 2,500 more work coaches to help those who need it most.”

Damian Hinds, Minster for Employment said: “We will always make sure that people have the support they need to get into and progress within work, that’s why we are recruiting 2,500 more work coaches to help those who need it most.

“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.”