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Jobseekers furious over Jobcentre threat

PUBLISHED: 15:41 17 April 2008 | UPDATED: 14:57 07 September 2010

THOUSANDS of Camden jobseekers have been dealt a major blow with the announcement that the Jobcentre on Kilburn High Road may close. Protesters were out in force at the weekend after the news that the centre s future hangs in the balance

Daniel Shane

THOUSANDS of Camden jobseekers have been dealt a major blow with the announcement that the Jobcentre on Kilburn High Road may close.

Protesters were out in force at the weekend after the news that the centre's future hangs in the balance.

The Jobcentre Plus is one of seven across the capital earmarked for closure by the Department of Work and Pensions.

A public consultation ends tomorrow.

Many are outraged by the proposal which will mean jobseekers having to travel to Kentish Town, Harlesden or Willesden.

Eileen Kullegher, 53, from Queen's Park, said: "The situation is really awful.

"Are they going to give us more benefits to make these journeys? I doubt it."

Results from the consultation will be collected at the end of this week and passed to the Minister for Employment and Welfare Reform Stephen Timms.

Mr Timms will then make the final decision on whether the centre will close.

The Department for Work and Pensions has defended the move, claiming any decision reached will benefit jobseekers.

"We regularly review our network to ensure that it continues to meet our customers' needs and provides the taxpayer with value for money," said a spokesman.

"More and more of our customers access our services directly by telephone or using the internet."

The Public and Commercial Services Union, one of the biggest trades unions in Britain, is sceptical about the closure.

One union source said: "It's a bit of sham. It's an example of the DWP not consulting properly with the community or the centre's users."

The Kilburn branch provides employment and benefit advice and support for more than 2,000 Camden residents.

At nearly seven per cent, the Kilburn ward has the second highest rate of unemployment in the borough.

Camden Council is also against the closure plans.

A spokesman said: "Kilburn, as one of the most employment-deprived wards in Camden, cannot afford to lose this resource."

The council also confirmed it would be working closely with Jobcentre Plus, Kilburn residents and other employment services to try to remedy the situation.

Ms Kullegher added: "It's a stupid idea. What's everyone going to do?"

In her consultation letter, JobCentre's district manager Jan Kelly said centres were increasingly used purely for booked appointments only.

She added: "As part of our normal management of the service, I have reviewed the current Jobcentre Plus delivery network within the district.

"As a result, I am considering closing our Kilburn office and delivering Jobcentre Plus services from nearby Harlesden, North Kensington and Willesden.

"This is because we are able to merge the services currently being delivered into single locations, thereby offering our customers a more joined-up and supportive service. This is an important step in ensuring our local network of offices deliver an improved customer service and that we are making best use of taxpayers' money. Our approach also ensures a presence continues to be maintained and enhanced in all key locations in our six London boroughs."

editorial@hamhigh.co.uk

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