Job centre to look at satellite option

East Devon MP Hugo Swire East Devon MP Hugo Swire

Friday, May 23, 2014
2:07 PM

East Devon MP Hugo Swire has secured a pledge from benefits chiefs to look into providing a ‘satellite’ job centre in Exmouth.

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Exmouth’s own job centre was closed early in 2008 in a cost-cutting exercise, and since then all the town’s jobseekers and benefits claimants have had to travel to Exeter to sign on.

Currently around 294 Exmouth residents claim Jobseeker’s Allowance, writes David Beasley.

The town council suggests that instead of jobseekers being paid to travel to Exeter that someone should be based one or two days a week in Exmouth – and the Department of Work in Pensions might not even have to pay for it.

A temporary office could operate out of the Glenorchy Church work club and be paid for by the Parishes Together Fund – a county and district pot for parish projects.

Toby Williams, from the office of Hugo Swire, said: “Hugo fully supports a very similar proposal.

“Ideally, Hugo would like to see a satellite job centre in Exmouth, much like the one that has been operating in Okehampton.

“In order to register his support for this proposal, he wrote to the district manager at Jobcentre Plus, Karen Hooper.

“Ms Hooper’s office has responded by saying that they will be conducting an equality impact assessment and will be formally replying imminently.”

Councillor Steve Gazzard said: “I am really pleased that Hugo is continuing to look into this. I hope that we end up having a positive outcome so we can have a job centre not just for the unemployed but all those who claim benefits.”

But Exmouth town clerk Colin Poole was a little more sceptical about the mooted equality impact assessment.

He said: “Providing evidence not to have an office is a doddle – what we want is for something to be done.

“We fully understand that the Department for Work and Pensions is not about to agree to a new office opening in Exmouth.

“But with modern technology, it must be possible for a worker from Exeter to be based one or two days a week in Exmouth.”

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