Barrow workers at risk of redundancy as health assessment centre set for closure

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OFFICE Phoenix House, Barrow
OFFICE Phoenix House, Barrow
26 January 2017 6:28PM

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.

This news will be a terrible worry for many employees at Phoenix House.

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.

 John Woodcock

John Woodcock

He said: "This news will be a terrible worry for many employees at Phoenix House and seems to fly in the face of the government's promise to move more and more jobs out of Whitehall and into the local communities they serve.

"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.

READ MORE: Unemployment up in south Cumbria

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."

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."

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Phil   Eaton , Barrow Friday, 27 January, 2017 at 10:21AM
Health assessment centre. Hmm well I guess first you serve the regime by denying benefits to sick people then the regime decides they don't want you either. There is a sort of karma about it.
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Phil   Eaton , Barrow Thursday, 26 January, 2017 at 7:55PM
Excellent news
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