Tower Hamlets Labour Group agreed a motion last week at Full Council to write to the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions and the Employment Minister to express concern at the damaging decision to close the Dod Street JobCentre Plus.
Dod Street JobCentre Plus is a vital resource for local residents in Poplar, and a hub for residents seeking face-to-face employment support; that the Government has not made any plans to replace this service will have a devastating impact on the community.
Tower Hamlets is one of the most deprived boroughs of London, and the closure brings further agony for local residents. This is taking place against a backdrop of the Tory Government allowing the Universal Credit uplift to end, the furlough scheme to close and the Government soon to impose an increase in National Insurance. The closure will result in increased deprivation through residents not claiming the benefit support that they are fully entitled to.
The motion also calls for the Government to offer support in finding alternative accommodation to effectively support residents in the borough and ensure they are not left without a crucial resource. It also calls on the local Members of Parliament to raise this with the Government.
Cllr Mufeedah Bustin, Cabinet Member for Social Inclusion, who proposed the motion, said: “The JobCentre Plus provides a lifeline to many residents in Tower Hamlets and the Dod Street closure in Poplar will increase the hardship that many vulnerable people in the borough face. The fact that the Government have taken this action and not even contemplated alternative accommodation for residents in need shows a complete disregard for the people of Tower Hamlets, and this is why we are pushing them to action this.”
Cllr Motin Uz-Zaman, Deputy Mayor and Cabinet Member for Work, Economic Growth and Faith, who seconded the motion, said: “Residents in Tower Hamlets are already facing substantial pressure in these difficult economic times, and the Government’s decision to close the Dod Street JobCentre Plus will only add to these pressures. Many of the residents who are in dire need of employment support are unable to travel too far from their home and do not necessarily have access to a computer, making this move even more reprehensible.”
John Biggs, Mayor of Tower Hamlets, said: “Tower Hamlets is one of the most deprived areas in London, made worse by the actions taken by this Tory Government over the last 11 years. JobCentre Plus are vital hubs used to support those residents not in employment, and they are the most vulnerable to the economic crisis we are facing in the UK; to close these centres and move them further away from the residents they are meant to help will do nothing to reduce employment and shows a complete lack of respect for the residents of Poplar and Tower Hamlets as a whole. We will push the Government to respond to this and provide an answer on how they will resolve this as soon as possible.”
Motion regarding the closure of Poplar JobCentre Plus
Proposed by: Cllr Mufeedah Bustin
Seconded by: Cllr Motin Uz-zaman
This council notes:
- The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) intends to close the JobCentre Plus branch based at Dod Street, Poplar.
- That the reasons for the closure are due to the landlord not renewing the lease.
- The closure of this branch will result in the removal of a critical layer of support for our residents in Tower Hamlets, at a time when Universal Credit uplift ends, the furlough scheme closes, and the government imposes an increase in National Insurance.
- The central position of the Dod Street branch is located close to some of the areas of highest deprivation in our borough: the closure will result in increased deprivation through residents not claiming the benefit support that they are entitled to.
- That access to welfare support is becoming increasingly digitised and those in most need of support are less likely to have the digital capability to access that support.
This council believes:
- The DWP’s JobCentre Plus branches provide vital face-to-face support to residents who are unemployed and/or are claiming benefit support.
- Within Tower Hamlets, there are just 2 JobCentre Plus branches, both in Poplar & Limehouse constituency, which provide vital support for many Tower Hamlets residents.
- The recently published “Poverty Review” highlighted that residents were not always aware of the benefit support available to them, and that there is high correlation between illiteracy, digital exclusion and poverty. Face to face advice is often vital for many residents to understand and access the support they need.
- That provision of employment and welfare support can be conducted in a variety of buildings and places that are accessible and welcoming to residents, and closer working between the DWP, council frontline services, and the borough’s advice centres, can only benefit our residents.
This council resolves:
- To ask the Mayor and Lead Member to write to the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Thérèse Coffey MP and the Minister for Employment Mims Davies MP to:
- express concern at the closure of Dod Street JobCentre Plus, and
- offer support in finding alternative suitable accommodation
- To call on our local MPs to raise our concerns with the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions.