Jobcentre bosses defend 2008 decision to pull out of Exmouth

PUBLISHED: 15:00 27 March 2014

Exmouth's job seekers have to make a fortnightly 23-mile round trek to sign on at the Exeter job centre. They receive no reimbursement for their travel costs. Photo: Paul Strange

Exmouth's job seekers have to make a fortnightly 23-mile round trek to sign on at the Exeter job centre. They receive no reimbursement for their travel costs. Photo: Paul Strange

Archant

THE Department for Work and Pensions has explained why it won’t be reintroducing a job centre in Exmouth.

Its decision – announced last week – came amid growing calls from an MP, the town’s mayor, the town council, the Open Door Centre, the Glenorchy Work Club and Exmouth’s jobseekers for a “satellite” office in the town.

The calls emerged during the Journal’s recent investigation in to the plight of the town’s jobseekers.

This revealed that following the closure of Exmouth’s job centre six years ago, around 370 jobseekers have to make a 23-mile round trip to sign on once a fortnight in Exeter, with no reimbursement for their travel costs.

Some are so broke that they can’t afford the train or bus fares (£7.20 bus, £4.10 off-peak train), and are walking in to Exeter to sign on.

But the DWP remains unmoved.

“There is no intention to re-introduce a job centre into Exmouth,” said a spokesperson for the department. “Exmouth’s job centre was closed in 2008 following a full consultation with key stakeholders.”

Those stakeholders included Hugo Swire, Exmouth Town Council, Budleigh Salterton Town Council, Exmouth Citizens Advice Bureau, Exmouth Chamber of Trade and Commerce, Exmouth’s Grand Hotel, Haven Holidays, Eurotech, Knappe Cross Care Centre, Fernihurst Care Home and Shelter.

“In addition,” said the spokesperson, “the district manager met with Hugo Swire to explain the viability of small offices and delivery changes,” adding: “The rationale for closing the site has not changed. Access to our services via other means – digitally or by phone – has increased considerably since 2008.

“This adds further weight to the original rationale.”

When asked to clarify the “original rationale” the spokesperson had no further comment to make, instead referring the Journal to key stakeholders in the 2008 decision for “the detail you are after”.

“Our priority has always been to ensure people have access to the full range of services available in the Exeter job centre.

“In between signing, claimants can access information and guidance, including job search online, or over the phone. There are many ways to access support from Jobcentre Plus without visiting one of our offices.”

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