Opinion Former Article

PCS: Madness to close jobcentres as unemployment rises

The Public and Commercial Services Union has condemned plans to close 19 jobcentres across the UK, announced by the Department for Work and Pensions today.

Despite a formal public consultation the offices in major cities including London, Manchester, Glasgow, and Cardiff are to close, including award-winning jobcentres such as Camberwell where 2,000 local people signed a petition against its closure. Two offices in the public consultation will not now be closed: Edinburgh City and Old Swan on Merseyside, where there have been concerted PCS campaigns against closure.

The announcement is on top of the 22 benefit processing offices already earmarked for closure over the next year where despite initial assurances from the government there would be no compulsory redundancy there are about 350 people who have not been found jobs.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: "It is madness to close jobcentres when unemployment is rising just to save a few quid on the rent. These plans were made on the basis of the government's inaccurate economic forecasts. They must be shelved so that public employment services can be expanded to meet the challenge of the deepening jobs crisis."

Jobcentre workers are campaigning against office closures and will lobby their MPs next Wednesday (2 November). Jobcentre Plus has slashed its workforce by more than 12,000 since January 2010 as ministers claimed unemployment would fall.

Last month unemployment rose sharply leading to fears that DWP will not have the capacity to cope. PCS has also criticised the cuts in policy and professional jobs in the department's headquarters which fall heavily on labour market expertise. Ministers have demanded a further headcount cut on top of large cuts already made, despite announcing the largest programme of welfare reform for a generation.

ENDS

Notes

The closure list is: London Heathrow; London Denmark Street; London Harrow Station Road; London Camberwell; Bluewater Recruitment Centre; Chelmsford Beeches Road; Dundee Gellatly Street; Aberdeen Chapel Street; Girvan; Glasgow Shawlands; Glasgow City; Glasgow Hillington; Aylesbury Heron House; Manchester Airport; Manchester Trafford Centre; Halifax Horton Street; Leicester Highfields and Cardiff Caradog House.

- For information contact PCS journalist Dave Tilley on 020 7801 2744

- PCS national officer Martin John is available for interviews on 07531 716658.

- The Public and Commercial Services union represents civil and public servants in central government. It has more than 300,000 members in over 200 departments and agencies, as well as staff in parts of government transferred to the private sector. PCS is the UK’s fifth largest union and is affiliated to the TUC. The general secretary is Mark Serwotka and the president is Janice Godrich

- Follow PCS on Twitter http://twitter.com/pcs_union

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