HAC has learned through the PCS that Heathrow Job Centre will be one of the 20 that the Con-Dem government is planning to close across the country.
There will be a six week public consultation on the closure, and HAC hopes to campaign closely with the PCS to keep this vital service open.
Read on for a statement from the PCS:
PCS opposes the proposed closure of 20 Job Centres
19 July 2011
Jobcentre Plus has today announced plans to close 20 Job Centres. The work of these offices will be transferred to neighbouring Job Centres, as will the staff who work in them.
The offices are:
London Denmark St.
London Harrow Station Road
Bluewater Recruitment centre
Chelmsford Beeches Road
Dundee Gellatly St.
Aberdeen Chapel St.
Aylesbury Heron House
Manchester Trafford centre
Old Swan Merseyside
Halifax Horton St.
Caradog House Cardiff
In addition management announced on 8 July the closure of Banff and Girvan Job Centres in Scotland with their work being co-located with ‘partners’ in those towns.
This announcement is yet another attack on the Jobcentre Plus network, coming just a few weeks after the announcement to close 17 Benefit Centres and 5 Contact Centres.
These cuts in the Jobcentre Plus network are driven by the coalition government’s decision to massively cut public spending and specifically to cut the budget of Jobcentre Plus.
There is no business reason to close these Job Centres. In fact at a time when the numbers on JSA are increasing and most forecasters predict increasing, rather than falling unemployment, it makes no sense to be reducing the support Jobcentre Plus provides. The closure of any Job Centre at a time of high and rising unemployment sends a message of a government that, rather than helping the unemployed, is only really interested in cutting provision for the unemployed.
It is also concerning that the closure of these offices appears to mark a decrease in the job broking role of Jobcentre Plus, as several of these offices only or mainly service employers. This serves only to increase fears that Jobcentre Plus is moving away from its traditional job broking role to one where the main aim of the organisation is ensuring benefit conditionality is enforced.
PCS Opposes Job Centre closures
PCS is opposed to these closures and we will do everything we can to campaign to keep these offices open and serving the public. Unlike the benefit centre and contact centre closures, Jobcentre Plus has to have a 6 week period of public consultation before a final decision to close a Job Centre can be taken. This gives PCS and our members, as well as any external bodies interested in keeping Job Centres open, a good opportunity to argue and campaign for them not to close.
Review of the Job Centre estate
Jobcentre Plus has been carrying out a major review of its Job Centre network, of which this announcement is part. They have told District Managers to review their estate based on the following guidelines
- Maintaining the best possible service delivery while reducing the estate and thereby saving money
- Encouraging co-location with other organisations
- No Job centre closures unless alternative premises are within 2/3 miles or 15/20 minutes on public transport
- Retaining an equivalent ‘footprint’ within communities
This work is still ongoing and DMs will be starting to talk to local ‘partners’ particularly with a view to exploring options for co-location of Job Centres with other local organisations on a greater scale. Further announcements on this are expected next year.
Impact on members
These announcements of Job Centre closures will undoubtedly be a source of concern and anxiety for our members in the affected offices. Management have said that they intend to transfer all of the staff to neighbouring Job Centres and do not expect there to be any transfers out with daily mobility. However there may be individual circumstances that some members have that makes a move, even to a relatively close office, problematic. In such circumstances members are advised to inform their line manager as soon as possible and to seek PCS help and advice from their local rep. Management expect most of these Job Centres to close around Autumn 2012.
Fighting Job centre Closures
All branches with one of these offices should use the 6 week consultation period to campaign to keep their offices open. As part of our campaign against office closures, the GEC will issue draft letters and other campaigning materials to branches that can be used to send to local MP’s and other community groups to seek their help in arguing for the offices to remain open. It is important to understand that final decisions have not yet been taken until the consultation period expires. It is therefore essential to use this time to everything we can to keep these essential offices open.
As more information becomes known the GEC will keep branches and members informed.