PUBLISHED: 10:00 02 September 2017
Barking and Dagenham Council has called for a “sensible solution” to the planned closure of Dagenham Job Centre as it fights to keep the service in the borough.
Councillors fear the closure of the centre will reduce the support available to vulnerable residents.
Councillor Cameron Geddes, cabinet member for economic and social development, has written two letters to secretary of state for work and pensions David Gauke MP calling on him to find an alternative solution which enables people in the area to continue to access the service.
His first letter asked for the Department of Work and Pensions to explore the option of “co-locating” the jobcentre with council staff in an effort to keep the service running.
And now in his second letter to the secretary of state, Cllr Geddes said: “I am calling on the Department of Work and Pensions to halt any movement of benefit claimants or staff from the Dagenham Job Centre until those discussions have taken place and I would like to invite you to visit our borough to discuss how we can work together to tackle unemployment.”
Cllr Geddes added: “We acknowledge the importance of employment and skills to our residents, hence our submission during the consultation on the closure to offer to meet to discuss the possibility of locating the job centre with council services in a council building in Dagenham.
“The council’s community solutions service is bringing together a range of services including housing advice, family and employment support. We would welcome the opportunity to welcome the Secretary of State to our borough to see some of the innovative solutions to address worklessness.”
Dagenham and Rainham MP Jon Cruddas has previously branded the closure as “entirely unacceptable,” arguing the closure will make it harder for those out of work to find a job.
Barking and Dagenham has a high proportion of working age residents out of work and claiming benefits.
A Department for Work and Pensions spokesman said: “Dagenham Jobcentre Plus is becoming increasingly underused, particularly as more of our services are offered online. Merging the jobcentre with our site in Barking means we can continue to provide a first-rate level of service to our local claimants.”