As you may have seen in the press, the Government has not only decided to close Farnworth Jobcentre, but to bring forward that closure to August 2017.
As well as making representations directly to the Government, I have created an online petition “Save Farnworth Jobcentre“.
It would mean a lot to me if you took a moment to add your name because:
The Department for Work and Pensions has brought forward the proposed closure of Farnworth Jobcentre without any meaningful consultation with the local community.
The Government claims that it is closing this Jobcentre as part of its “continued drive to deliver public services in more innovative and cost effective ways” without seeming to consider the impact on the local community.
Farnworth is a deprived area, and residents rely on the support provided by their local Jobcentre, not only for help in finding employment, but also for benefit advice, access to computers and telephones. Farnworth Jobcentre is extremely busy and is valued by local residents, and to remove yet another service from Farnworth town centre means that unemployed and disabled residents will be further disadvantaged and could be pushed even further into poverty.
Farnworth Councillors and I have been contacted by numerous constituents who are very concerned at the impact that this will have on them.
Many unemployed or disabled residents of Farnworth, Kearsley and Little Lever simply cannot afford to travel into Bolton town centre. Even if some residents can afford the up-front cost of travel, the cost of reimbursement would be prohibitive as there is a high number of people who sign weekly, and some who sign daily. The closure of Farnworth Jobcentre would not result in savings to the public purse.
In addition to the travel cost, it will also take residents considerably longer to travel into Bolton, increasing the likelihood of late attendance or missed appointments, which could lead to benefit sanctions. It would also cause greater inconvenience, including less time to spend searching for employment. People who have caring responsibilities are concerned that they will not be able to get to work on time, because of the extra travel time to get to Bolton Jobcentre.
Residents with mobility problems will find it more difficult to attend Bolton Jobcentre, particularly those who are not able to use public transport and do not have access to private transport. The Government is currently consulting on health and disability issues, yet is at the same time making access to services more difficult.
Bolton has two Jobcentres only a few hundred yards apart, yet Farnworth will be left with none. This simply makes no sense. Surely it would be better to close one of the Bolton Jobcentres and keep the one in Farnworth open?
The Government requires claimants to attend more frequent face-to-face interviews than ever before, so it is vital that this service is retained in Farnworth.
We call upon the Department for Work and Pensions not to close Farnworth Jobcentre and ensure that its services are retained in Farnworth town centre.