COLNE’S Conservative Councillors have today reacted angrily to the announcement of a consultation on the future of Colne’s Job Centre by The Department of Work and Pensions (DWP). The DWP proposal would see Colne Job Centre closed and the current staff and workload would being transferred to the Nelson Job Centre Plus by 31st March 2018.
In a letter sent to Andrew Stephenson MP, the rationale for possibly closing the centre is given as “This move is part of DWP’s continued drive to deliver public services in more innovative and cost effective ways. We have sought to ensure that the estate from which we operate continues to meet the changing needs of our business and our claimants.”
Commenting on the proposal, Cllr Joe Cooney said, “I’m deeply disappointed by The DWP announcement. There has been no consultation with local stakeholders, including councillors. I understand the DWP needs to pare its cost base, and claimants will be able to claim travel expenses to reach Nelson’s Job Centre, so they won’t be out of pocket. However, we believe The DWP seems to have failed to consider the already wide catchment area Colne Job Centre serves and the difficulty many claimants will have getting to Nelson.”
Andrew Stephenson MP commented, “At this stage, this is a proposal and no definite decision has been made. I recognise the need for The DWP to prioritise its funding for advisors and job coaches rather than the fixed costs associated with buildings and given the substantial fall in unemployment since 2010 its only right we review how we deliver services. I have already spoken with local DWP staff to express my deep reservations about this proposal and I will be meeting the Minister soon to raise these concerns directly with him. I will also work local councillors to see if an alternative solution can be found.”