DESPITE a long campaign to keep a team of benefits specialists in Barrow, Phoenix House will shut for good this weekend. 

The DWP confirmed that the Stephen Street office, which hosted 40 jobs, will close on Saturday.

The office houses industrial injury and disablement specialists. This includes industrial injuries such as asbestosis and mesothelioma, a form of cancer that lines the lungs, heart, stomach and other organs causing painful coughing, respiratory difficulties, and abdominal pain and weight loss. 

The Barrow and Furness MP Simon Fell launched a petition and wrote to the Secretary of State Mel Stride calling on him to retain the service in the area. 

However a DWP spokesman confirmed this week: "The Phoenix House site will close as planned on Saturday 30 September.

“Work currently undertaken at Phoenix House will continue at DWP offices in Barnsley and Bradford. All affected colleagues were either retained, redeployed within DWP or another government department, or have chosen to accept a voluntary redundancy offer.”

READ MORE: Furness MP presents Phoenix House petition to Parliament as protest nears

Reacting, Mr Fell said: "This is really sad news. The community really stepped up on this campaign, with hundreds of people signing my petition, and a small rally being held in town with representatives of the two unions and myself speaking. 

The Mail: The Barrow Trades Union Council with Simon Fell MP at the rallyThe Barrow Trades Union Council with Simon Fell MP at the rally (Image: Newsquest)

"Sadly though, despite multiple meetings with the minister and raising it in parliament, we just couldn't get it over the line. I understand that there are no redundancies from the site as most people have either moved or been deployed elsewhere, but I do maintain concerns that the specialist knowledge that was there will not be replicated through the new sites where this work will be carried out.

"I'll continue to work with asbestos groups and others to monitor this and feedback into the DWP." 

In October 2022 there was a protest outside the office by PCS Union members with campaigning allies from Trades Union Congress Northern, and the Asbestos Victims Support Group.

The PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: "The services that hardworking PCS members provide here are invaluable - helping the dependents of people who die at work, for example, is critical."