Barrow workers at risk of redundancy as health assessment centre set for closure
JOBS are at risk in Barrow after plans to shut a benefits office were revealed today.
Phoenix House is one of dozens of Department for Work and Pensions sites across the country proposed for closure.
Staff are to be consulted about their futures and possibly redeployed elsewhere in the country, the Evening Mail understands.
Some could be made redundant if alternative locations can't be agreed, although numbers at risk in Barrow are still unclear at this stage.
The Stephen Street venue is listed as operating as a centre for health and disability assessments and a back office but is identified as a "divest" option on an official government document.
Barrow and Furness MP John Woodcock said the announcement was "terrible" news for workers.
"Key to this is obviously how far away the proposed new office will be.
"I have arranged to meet staff representatives in Barrow and will take their concerns straight back to the government minister next week."
The government has revealed plans to shut one in 10 Jobcentres in England, Scotland and Wales as well as close 27 back office buildings and co-locate around 50 offices in local authority or community venues.
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Jobcentres and benefit centres are covered by old building contracts which are coming up for renewal and the government wants to get rid of "under-used" facilities and merge offices and staff with them.
Mark Serwotka, general secretary of the Public and Commercial Services union, said: "We are opposed to these closures and will vigorously fight any attempt to force DWP workers out of their jobs."
Closures of benefit offices, call centres, pensions and child maintenance offices would also all hit services provided to the public— PCS Union (@pcs_union) January 26, 2017
The DWP said it expected affected employees to move to other sites, adding that any redundancies would be "very small".
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, that's why we are recruiting 2,500 more work coaches to help those who need it most.
"The way the world works has changed rapidly in the last 20 years and the welfare state needs to keep pace.
"As more people access their benefits through the internet, many of our buildings are under-used.
"We are concentrating our resources on what we know best helps people into work."