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'Thousands of jobs at risk' in Job Centre closures plan

More than 70 existing offices are expected to be retained. Credit: PA

The Government is planning to close a number of Job Centres under reforms to deal with "under-used" buildings, according to the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union.

Union officials said more than one in 10 Job Centres in England, Wales and Scotland will shut putting thousands of staff jobs at risk.

Jobcentres provide a lifeline for unemployed people, and forcing them to travel further is not only unfair, it undermines support to get them back to work.

We are opposed to these closures and will vigorously fight any attempt to force DWP workers out of their jobs."

– PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) said it expected the employees in branches set to close, to move to other sites.

The DWP added that four out of five claims for Jobseeker's Allowance and 99% of applicants for Universal Credit submit their claims online.

We will always make sure that people have the support they need to get into and progress within work, that's why we are recruiting 2,500 more work coaches to help those who need it most.

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.

– Employment Minister Damian Hinds

Job Centres and benefit centres are covered by old building contracts which are coming up for renewal.

The proposals include merging 78 smaller Job Centre 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 700 existing offices will be retained.

The Government said that any redundancies would be "very small."