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Lewisham needs a Jobcentre

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28 April 2017
jobcentre Yesterday I spoke at a public meeting organised by the PCS union and Bromley Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) on the future of the Rushey Green Jobcentre.
The Government is planning to close Jobcentres across the country, including the Jobcentre at Rushey Green. 22 of 73 Jobcentres in London are closing. The Rushey Green Jobcentre has been earmarked for closure due to the building lease coming to an end. The Government has proposed that Forest Hill is made Lewisham’s only Jobcentre.

I heard the concerns of the local community about having to travel to a less accessible office in Forest Hill and took questions about the capacity of Jobcentre staff to be able to provide the same level of face-to-face support in a much smaller space.
I have repeatedly raised the closure of Rushey Green Jobcentre in Parliament, but has had no assurances from Government Ministers about ensuring that Lewisham residents have access to a local Jobcentre.
At the moment the Jobcentre is located in the heart of the borough of Lewisham, on a busy street between Lewisham and Catford. It is easily accessible on a number of different bus routes. 

The Department for Work and Pensions is proposing to close a big, busy Jobcentre and squeeze it into an office block in Forest Hill. This makes absolutely no sense. People who are unemployed need to be able to access support easily. The idea that everything can be done online is ridiculous.

There has been no assessment done of the impact of this closure on groups of people who traditionally need the most support to get into work - young people, those with disabilities and those from a black or ethnic minority background. I will be doing all I can to keep this service in the heart of the borough. If it means that Government has to stump up bit more cash to pay for a different office in Catford or Lewisham, then so be it. It will save money in the long term by getting people back to work.
The Department for Work and Pensions is in discussions with Lewisham Council about taking on a lease in Eros House in Catford. I have pushed Government Ministers to commit to funding services to run from this location but no guarantees have been forthcoming. 

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