Benefit office closures 'deeply flawed' as unemployment will rise

13 May 2011


The decision by Jobcentre Plus to close one fifth of its benefit processing offices and call centres has been branded “deeply flawed and dangerous” by PCS.

The announcement today that 17 benefit processing sites and five contact centres will be shut mostly within 12 months, threatening 2,400 jobs, comes at a time when hundreds of thousands public sector workers are expected to lose their jobs, with an anticipated similar knock-on effect in the private sector.

Jobcentre Plus has already cut more than 10,000 staff since 2009 and this latest decision will mean more delays in processing claims.

This comes as ministers are reviewing the jobcentre network as a whole and the union fears there is a risk they will decide to close more jobcentres, particularly in rural areas.

An Office for Budget Responsibility report prepared for the budget in March forecast unemployment will be higher throughout 2012 than it was at the beginning of this year.

Delegates to the union’s Department for Work and Pensions group conference – to be held on Monday 16 and Tuesday 17 May, before PCS’s annual conference which opens the following day – will debate an emergency motion to launch a campaign against the closures.

The first motion to be debated at PCS’s national conference calls for a national strike ballot over cuts to jobs, pay and pensions, and for the union to “work with other trade unions to co-ordinate the action for maximum impact”.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said:

“This is a deeply flawed and dangerous plan that will remove vital support to jobseekers and people claiming welfare at precisely the time the government’s ideological cuts will throw more people out of work.

Instead of cutting jobs, the government should be investing in public services like these to help get people back to work more quickly and help our economy to get back on track.”

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