I urged the Government to think again about the closure of the Eastern Avenue Jobcentre in a debate today in Parliament. My demand followed a decision announced yesterday to press ahead with the controversial closure, while some Jobcentres in other parts of the country were reprieved. Challenging Work and Pensions Secretary David Gauke MP in the House of Commons this morning, I said:
Sheffield’s Eastern Avenue Jobcentre is rooted in the community it serves. Staff have a close relationship with local people and can support them better because of that. The Secretary of State talks about a ‘much-improved service’, does he not recognise that centralising the service and breaking the link with the local community will damage the service – and will he think again.
The Secretary of State refused to address my question. Closing Eastern Avenue is a false economy. Jobcentres are there to support people into work and breaking the link with the local community will undermine that support and reduce opportunities for local people. We’ve seen no cost-benefit analysis and no impact assessment.
1. On 26th January 2017 the Department for Work and Pensions announced proposals for:
- Closing 78 smaller Jobcentre Plus offices in urban areas with a proposal to ‘merge’ with larger ones nearby.
- Co-locating around 50 Jobcentre Plus offices with local authorities or other community services.
- Closing 27 back office buildings around the country
- Re-organising the corporate centre to make maximum use of 6 regional corporate hubs.
This included plans to close the Jobcentre Plus Offices on Eastern Avenue, which I challenged on 30th January
2. The Department for Work and Pensions announced via a Written Ministerial Statement on the 5th July that the closure proposals will go ahead. Just six of the original 78 Jobcentres earmarked for closure will remain open. Only 11 of the 80 planned to co-locate with local authorities have been given a reprieve. Two Jobcentres that were to stay open have been added to the closure list. The Jobcentre Plus Office on Eastern Avenue will be closed.