Two job centres in Brent to close under merger plan
- Credit: Archant
Half of Brent’s jobcentres are to close and merge into existing sites, the government has announced.
Plans to shut sites in Cambridge Avenue, in Kilburn, and Chancel House, in Neasden, were confirmed by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) on Thursday claiming the buildings are underused.
Wembley Job Centre in St John’s Road and the centre in Harlesden High Street will remain open.
Olympic House in Wembley used as an administration base will be moved to a new building nearby which is currently being discussed.
Staff from Neasden and Kilburn will move in to the remaining centres while applicants will be expected to travel,
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The government says eight out of ten claims for Jobseeker’s Allowance and 99 per cent of applications for Universal Credit are now made online.
A spokesman for the DWP said: “These plans will save over £140m. This is not about job losses, all staff will keep their jobs in the offices we are closing. A third of the space is not being used which makes no sense to the tax payer.”
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He said applicants will have to travel to centres but that the government “expects people who are looking for work to travel for up to 90 minutes.”
The proposals were first mooted in January , and in March Brent Council wrote to the DWP asking that the plans be reconsidered.
Cllr Shama Tatler, Brent Council’s cabinet member for regeneration and growth, employment and skills said:
“Closing down job centres in two of the most deprived areas in London shows that the government’s rhetoric about helping people into work is simply not matched by the reality of what they are doing on the ground.
“How does it make any sense to close these centres in the areas where they are most needed and send these unemployed residents, some of whom will struggle with the travel costs, all the way to more affluent parts of London to get the help and support that they need?”
Damian Hinds, minster for employment said: “We will always make sure that people have the support they need to get into and progress within work. These changes reflect the fact that more people access their benefits online resulting in many of our buildings being underused.
“We’re merging some offices and locating other jobcentres with local authorities to make sure that the welfare state and our employment support works for those who need it and those who pay for it.”