Closure of Hoylake Jobcentre: Minister fails to reveal accelerated closure plans in debate
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27 Jul 2017
Margaret Greenwood MP, Shadow Minister of Employment, has written to Damian Hinds MP, the Minister overseeing the government‘s plans to close 1 in 10 Jobcentres, calling on him to urgently clarify the timetable for the closure of Hoylake Jobcentre after reports by the PCS union that the Department for Work and Pensions revealed at a meeting with its representatives last Friday, 21st July, that the closure is due to begin on 25th August.
The MP also called on the Minister to publish any assessment that the DWP has made of the impact of the closure on people with disabilities and caring responsibilities.
The Minister failed to reveal plans to accelerate the closure of Hoylake, despite being directly challenged by Margaret Greenwood to publish the timetable for the closures in a Westminster debate on the issue only last Thursday, 20th July.
Claimants registered at Hoylake are scheduled to move to Upton Jobcentre, along with staff. Margaret Greenwood MP will be meeting with DWP’s District Manager for Merseyside tomorrow, Friday, 28th July, to find out more about what is going to happen.
The closure plans were originally announced in January and were confirmed on 5th July, but no timetable for the closure to take place was published.
Margaret Greenwood MP said:
“The government has decided to close around 1 in 10 Jobcentres in the UK, including Hoylake, just at the time when demands on staff are increasing sharply.
“The closure plans will hit people who are disabled or who have caring responsibilities in particular, yet the government has failed to publish an equalities impact assessment.
“I have written to the Minister responsible calling on him to pause the plans to close Hoylake Jobcentre until the government has set out just what the implications for people with disabilities and caring responsibilities will be.
“The government has failed so far to say if there will be any services still provided at places in the community other than Upton. Proper provision for disabled people or those with caring responsibilities must be made if the change is to go ahead.
"I understand that some claimants with hearing impairments find Hoylake easy to use. It really is important that when services are provided they are accessible to all who need them."
“Jobcentres will be responsible for providing much more direct employment support than previously as a result of the closure of the Work Programme which was outsourced to private companies and voluntary organisations.
“People claiming social security could be at increased risk of being sanctioned if they have a longer journey to Upton Jobcentre as a result of the move.
“Staff will have additional responsibilities as the result of the roll out of Universal Credit as well.
"The full service of Universal Credit is scheduled to be introduced in Wirral in November, but it has led to major problems in other areas with claimants often forced to spend long periods on the phone or visit Jobcentres to resolve issues with their claim.
“I challenged the Minister directly in a debate at Westminster last Thursday to publish the government’s timetable for the closure plans so that staff and claimants could have as much time as possible to prepare for the changes.
“The Minister failed to answer and I am very concerned by reports that the government is to press ahead with the plans with what appears to be as little notice or publicity as possible whilst Parliament is in recess for the summer.
“I am calling on the government to put the plans to close Hoylake Jobcentre on hold. When questioned on cuts to social security it says work is the best route out of poverty: these plans risk leaving people without the support they need to find employment.”