Jobcentre closure attacked by MP

PUBLISHED: 15:56 18 March 2009 | UPDATED: 10:08 12 August 2010

CLOSURE of a jobcentre as the recession bites has attracted the scorn of an MP. Orpington Jobcentre Plus is due to close on April 1

CLOSURE of a jobcentre as the recession bites has attracted the scorn of an MP.

Orpington Jobcentre Plus is due to close on April 1 despite number of jobseekers rising by 15 per cent between last September and January.

The Government declared a moratorium for the closure of the hybrid benefit and job centres last year but three, in Orpington, Brixton and Feltham were omitted.

John Horam, MP for Orpington, said the closure was indicative of sweeping centralisation that made life harder for residents.

Mr Horam said: "Like all the fuss about Orpington Treatment Centre, where they couldn't decide whether to close it, the decision smacks of indecision.

"At least the hospital trust reacted to the demands of the current situation, and in the same way I think right now Orpington would benefit from a Jobcentre.

"The effect of this centralisation is that we have fewer services in Orpington. It makes it hard to run a town properly."

Bromley Jobcentre Plus is due to take up the jobseekers previously going to Orpington, but Mr Horam received complaints of overcrowding from residents.

One letter told of queues getting longer, a lack of chairs and staff attempting to give advice in three minutes.

The letter was raised in the House of Commons by the Shadow Leader of the House, Theresa May, on Monday.

She said: "The Government will have to pay to extend the Jobcentre in Bromley to cope with the increased numbers.

"Are the Government genuinely that incompetent or do they just take people for fools?"

In January, the Times reported that since the peak of the recession last September, the number of Bromley job seekers rose by 15 per cent to 3,922 a month.

Over the last year, Bromley suffered 3.9 per cent unemployment, compared to 4.7 per cent in Bexley and 6.8 per cent in Greenwich.

A Department for Work and Pensions spokesman said: "We are confident that we will still provide our customers with a first class service.

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