Jobcentres to shut in civil service cuts

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More than 40 social security offices and Jobcentres across Britain are to close under controversial plans to cut 100,000 civil servant jobs, workers were told today.

More than 40 social security offices and Jobcentres across Britain are to close under controversial plans to cut 100,000 civil servant jobs, workers were told today.

A series of meetings were held with staff affected by the announcement which was attacked by union officials.

The Public and Commercial Services Union said the social security offices and Jobcentres in some of the poorest communities in Britain will close from next year hitting long-term unemployed, pensioners and other benefit claimants.

More than 2,000 workers face losing their job under today's announcement, said the union.

The Work and Pensions Secretary Alan Johnson said the changes were part of the department's "continuing modernisation programme" which he said will lead to more efficient and effective services.

The PCS said it was more important than ever that civil servants voted to support a one-day strike on November 5 in protest at the job losses.

General Secretary Mark Serwotka said some of the closures in areas including Carmarthen, Aberystwyth, and Wrexham in Wales would have a "devastating" impact on the local communities.

"The Government said that their so-called efficiency drive was about putting more resources to the front line, yet today we see essential services axed with no real thought of the impact on the communities they serve.

"Services helping some of the most vulnerable in society are being slashed and offices helping people into work at the heart of some of the poorest communities are being closed."

Mr Serwotka said he believed today's announcement was the first tranche in the "decimation" of services provided by the Department for Work and Pensions.

"Workers will be angry, worried and extremely concerned about their future."

The union will be seeking an urgent meeting with the new Work and Pensions Secretary Alan Johnson.

Almost 300,000 civil servants will be balloted next month on whether to take industrial action.

Mr Serwotka said the DWP was portraying today's announcement as modernising services and improving efficiency but he said the complete opposite was true.

Other office closures include Braintree and Southend in Essex, Worksop in the East Midlands, Bishop Auckland in the North East, Bury, Rochdale and Salford in the North West, Perth and Hamilton in Scotland, Ashford, Chatham and Tunbridge Wells in Kent, Bath, Bristol, Cheltenham and several social security offices in the West Midlands including Dudley and West Bromwich.

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