Monday, 21 May 2007 23:09

Closure plan for rural job centres

Written by  Ruralcity Media
Union leaders have accused the government of turning its back on rural communities after it emerged that job centres could close across five English counties.

Some 26 rural job centres are under threat of closure in Devon, Somerset, Dorset, Cornwall and Cumbria, claims the Public and Commercial Services Union.

The closure plan was the subject of a six-week consultation by the Department of Work and Pensions, due to get under way on Monday (21 May).

It comes against the backdrop of an ongoing national dispute between union leaders and civil service managers.

Over 600 job centres and benefit offices have closed over the last three years.

Job cuts, below inflation pay and privatisation have already seen union leaders call two national civil service wide strikes.

General secretary Mark Serwotka said: “The closure of these offices will undoubtedly lead to people wanting to get back into work having to travel unacceptable distances to get help.

“With hundreds of jobcentres and benefits offices already closed in urban areas, the fear is that this first wave of consultations marks the beginning of a wider closure programme of jobcentres in rural communities.”

Rather than racing to cut costs and slash jobs, the government needed to halt the closure of job centres and recognise their importance in getting people back into work.

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