VIDEO: 'Government don't know if Eastern Avenue job centre closure will save money' says Sheffield MP
The Government 'don't know' if closing a Sheffield job centre will 'save them money' a city MP has said.
Sheffield Heeley MP Louise Haigh raised the issue in the House of Commons on Thursday as the closure of Eastern Avenue Jobcentre Plus in Arbourthorne approaches.
Centre users reacted with anger at the initial plans for closure which will eventually make them travel further for benefit claims and meetings.
Staff, backed by the Public and Commercial Services Union, have staged strike action in protest at the closure.
The Government claim the closure is to save money - but Ms Haigh said she was 'yet to be convinced' the Government had provided a cost-benefit analysis to back this claim up.
After criticising the time it took to scrap the 55 pence a minute Universal Credit helpline for claimants, Ms Haigh said: "One of the recommendations the Secretary of State is making is that claimants visit their local job centre at the very same time the department is shutting nearly 70 job centres.
"Eastern Avenue Jobcentre is due to close on November 17 in Sheffield - the department is yet to publish a cost benefit analysis for this decision, despite the fact they claim the decision is based solely on the need to make savings.
"I am yet to be convinced that they have even conducted a cost benefit analysis.
"So can we have a debate, in Government time on this decision before the job centre is closed, wreaking misery on the claimants in that area?"
In response to Ms Haigh, leader of the House of Commons, Andrea Leadsom said: "We still have a significant fiscal challenge as a result of the state of the economy we were left with in 2010.
"We continue to try and take steps to live within our means. The reality is that every day we continue to spend more than we receive in taxes our children and grandchildren will be forced to pay back those debts.
"The reduction in job centres is actually being off set by an increase in the number of work coaches to provide more support to people who need it, merging smaller officers into bigger sites so we can save the taxpayer money but we are not changing the service we offer.