Jobcentre Plus jobs are at risk after news that the government plans to close more than 10% of Jobcentre Plus offices. The cuts are likely to result in the loss of up to 750 jobs.
There are currently 714 Jobcentre Plus offices in England, Wales and Scotland operating on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions. The Minister for Employment, Damian Hinds, cited that the reason for closure as online serivices such as Universal Jobs Match changing how people use welfare services. He claimed that Jobcentre Plus offices are becoming underused as people increasingly manage their benefits claims and search for jobs online.
In an interview, Hinds said, “The way the world works has changed rapidly in the last 20 years and the welfare state needs to keep pace,” he said. “As more people access their benefits through the internet many of our buildings are underused. We are concentrating our resources on what we know best helps people into work.”
The details of the DWP’s plans to close 1 in 10 Jobcentres are still to be confirmed but initial reports suggest that 78 of the smaller Jobcentre Plus offices will be closed. These JCP offices will be merged with larger, local jobcentre offices forcing people to travel further for jobcentre appointments.
Jobcentre Back Office Closures
The announcement also included the planned closure of 27 back-office buildings. Their services will be further centralised into larger progressing sites. This will including the building on five new service centre, with work scheduled to start in 2018.
Unions have already made statements opposing the planned closures. Mark Serwotka, general secretary of the Public and Commercial Services Union 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.”
However, the DWP tried to reassure JCP staff that job losses would be minimised by a relocation initiative and the offer of new roles within the DWP.