Councillor Alan Hall said: “Lewisham residents need to be able to access government services. Closing the Job Centre in Catford will make it harder for those who lose their job including those who are disabled or sick. This, at a time when they most need help and support. I have written to the Secretary of State to ask him to keep a Job Centre in Catford.”
The text of the letter Councillor Alan Hall has sent to the Minister is here:
For Damien Green MP
Dear Secretary of State,
Lewisham Job Centre
I am writing to you to strongly urge that a Job Centre is retained in Catford. I understand that the Council has been working to find alternative premises for the Lewisham JCP since its closure was announced by the DWP in January.
On Monday 3 April the Council’s Head of Strategy spoke to the South London District JCP Manager, Hazel Renwick. Hazel reported that space planning carried out at the Forest Hill site showed that JCP should be able to transfer approximately 100 staff to that site. This will leave 25-35 staff without a base.
It should be remembered that Deptford Job Centre has closed and that benefit claimants some very vulnerable will have to long and difficult journeys across the borough.
I note that DWP guidance says that no claimant should travel more than 3 miles or 20 minutes by public transport to reach a JCP.
An alternative option to reallocation, one that is favoured by the Council, is JCP using space in Eros House. I am asking you to consider this option seriously.
I would like to formally request that an Equality Impact Assessment be published on the loss of this significant service to the borough’s residents. I believe this increase costs to the Council – in delayed housing benefit claims and homelessness and disability services – merely cost shunting responsibilities and services around the public sector at large.
I would be very grateful if you could reply to all points raised in this letter.
Councillor Alan Hall
Leader, Labour’s Non-Executive Councillors