DWP reveal more than 20 jobcentres to close or move

More than 20 jobcentres across the country are to close or move through reforms to save money and deal with "under-used'' office space.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) announced a further raft of closures on Thursday following a previous announcement last month.

On Thursday, it said that it would divest itself of 16 premises, nine of them job centres.

Under the plans, Port Glasgow will move into Greenock jobcentre, Alexandria will move into Dumbarton jobcentre while Edinburgh City will move to High Riggs and Wester Hailes.

There will be consultations on two jobcentres where the proposed distance to move is more than three miles.

They are Broxburn, which would Livingston jobcentre under the plans, and Grangemouth, which would move to Falkirk.

Jobcentres in Lanark and Wick will move into other buildings in the towns while Benbecula and Inverness are also affected.

Last month the DWP announced it is divesting itself of 13 jobcentres in Scotland, including eight closures in Glasgow.

The DWP said the way its services are delivered has changed in recent years, with eight out of ten claims for jobseeker's allowance and 99.6% of applicants for Universal Credit submitting their claims online.

Jobcentres and benefit centres are covered by old building contracts which are now coming up for renewal.

Under the plans, some smaller jobcentres will be merged with larger ones and others will be co-located with local government premises.

The department said that it will save about #180 million a year for the next ten years through the reforms.

The ``vast majority'' of staff will have the option to relocate or be offered alternative roles.

Employment Minister Damian Hinds said: "The way the world works has changed rapidly in the last 20 years and the welfare state needs to keep pace.

"As more people access their benefits through the internet, many of our buildings are under-used. We are concentrating our resources on what we know best helps people into work.

"The changes we've announced today will help ensure that the way we deliver our services reflect the reality of today's welfare system.''

The DWP also plans to divest itself of two centres for health and disability assessments and seven back of house premises in Scotland.

It said the support provided to jobseekers will be further strengthened this year as staff numbers are boosted by a recruitment drive to hire 2,500 new work coaches.

The planned changes will be made in consultation with staff, taking into account the impact on benefit claimants and DWP staff.

The DWP said that since 2010, 2.7 million more people across the UK are in work, youth unemployment has fallen by 366,000 and the employment rate is at a record high.

Across the UK, the proposals include merging 78 smaller Jobcentre Plus offices in urban areas with larger ones nearby, co-locating around 50 offices with local authorities or other community services and closing 27 back office buildings.

More than 70 existing offices will be retained.

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