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JobCentre closures proving costly mistake says Webb

March 17, 2010 2:20 PM

Originally published by UK Liberal Democrats

The Government has been forced to make a U-turn on their JobCentre closure programme after a huge rise in unemployment placed unexpected pressure on the network. As part of its closure programme, over 500 JobCentres were closed, even as the recession took hold last year.

Unemployment skyrocketed by up to a third in the areas affected in just one year while the JobCentres were closed.

The Government spent £336,000 closing the JobCentre in South Northfield, Birmingham and another £758,000 closing one in Broadway, Bexleyheath, answers to Parliamentary Questions show.

Between January 2009 and January 2010, the claimant count shows that:

Unemployment increased 33% in South Northfield, Birmingham, from 2,472 (7.3% of the working age population) to 3,292 (9.5%)

Unemployment increased by 25% in Broadway, Bexleyheath, from 1,386 (3.4%) to 1,732 (4.2%) The Government also closed JobCentres only to re-open them again in Great Moor Street, Bolton and Erdington, Birmingham. While the JobCentres were closed, the number of people out of work rose by 28% and 22% respectively.

Commenting, Liberal Democrat Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, Steve Webb said:

"It is good to hear that ministers have finally backed down and started reopening Jobcentres in areas where unemployment has wreaked havoc during the recession.

"Jobseekers need all the help they can get and shouldn't have to travel miles to get it.

"The Government was arrogant and short-sighted to close more than 500 jobcentres at a great cost to taxpayers, it is a shame they didn't realise their mistake sooner."