Column: No understanding of impact

Louise Haigh MP.
Louise Haigh MP.
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If you learn anything in my job, it’s that some changes are so fundamental that once made they are difficult, if not impossible, to put right.

One such proposed change is the recently unveiled plans to close the Jobcentre Plus on Eastern Avenue, Manor Top.

Not only is Eastern Avenue the site of 70 jobs through its own staff, it’s a source of help and support to thousands of my constituents and their families who live locally in the community.

The proposed closure would affect all those people, including many who are disabled, and force them to travel across town to their nearest job centre, some on a daily basis.

This would mean them spending money they can ill afford on taking buses, and that they would have to spend valuable time travelling that would be better spent looking for work.

In addition, it would force thousands of people searching for work to use other job centre locations – many of which are already overstretched – and disadvantage others in the city as queues become longer and service less immediate.

It’s yet another example of the Government making changes in the name of efficiency without considering the massive long-term inefficiencies, costs and worry their changes incur.

That’s why I, the PCS union, whose job centre staff also oppose the closure, and local councillors are joining to fight against the closure.

We saw this Government’s incompetence last year with the Concentrix scandal, when thousands of people were wrongly denied tax credits by a private company hired by HMRC.

Many of my constituents were forced to go months without their money, and in some cases accused by Concentrix of being married to people they had never met, or who were dead.

And we also saw ill-fated plans to close the BIS office in Sheffield to move the staff to London.

Too often decisions are made in Whitehall and Westminster with absolutely no consideration or understanding of the impacts they will have on the ground.