The very government Department that exists to help get people working is attempting to undertake a move that negatively impact the job prospects of hundreds of Oldhamers that work at the site and in the wider local economy.
After speaking with the PCS Union this week it’s clear that as the one-to-one process gets underway that people do – understandably – have issues with potentially another ten-miles on their commute. The knock-on effect that this could have on the time it takes people to get to work, the increased cost of travel and childcare that comes with that seems to be being ignored by the DWP.
The idea that all of the staff will be able to move to another location, be it Stockport, Salford or Manchester City Centre without any issues is laughable, and any job losses will have a huge impact on the operations that take place at these offices.
It’s all very well the Government saying that these are back office operations and people who rely on these services won’t notice a change in service, but the reality is that our benefits and pensions system in the UK can be complicated for people to navigate and the people that work at Phoenix House are experts at benefits processing – many of them have been doing it for years. I’ve also been told that the Government has also ruled out using working from home or a more flexible hybrid approach as a way to avoid making people redundant.
I’m firmly of the opinion that this office should remain open. The government talks about levelling up but then proceeds with closing down offices in towns like ours who desperately need a new deal. Labour will always be on the side of working people, and I’ll continue to work with neighbouring MPs and the PCS Union to oppose this move.