By Dan Flinn in The Conversation.
The jobcentre. It used to be a staple of the British high street, where the unemployed went to sign on and look for work. But Britain’s national network of jobcentres is currently undergoing radical change as the government implements multiple welfare reforms and cuts as part of its continued austerity drive. Between 2016 and 2018, over 100 jobcentres – about 15% of the network – will have closed.
Support for the long-term unemployed and disabled jobseekers has also been cut. A new Work and Health Programme will assist less than a quarter of the participants of the programmes it replaced. Across the country, hundreds of specialist organisations working with jobseekers have lost contracts, and thousands of experienced employment advisers have lost their jobs.
And all this is happening just as the number of unemployed claimants has started to increase and the roll-out of the new, catch-all benefit called Universal Credit, is accelerating. By the end of 2018, most new working age claimants in Britain, will be claiming Universal Credit – and many of them will be required to attend jobcentres. The already intense pressure on a shrinking network of jobcentres will increase further in 2019 when the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) will begin moving millions of existing benefit claimants onto Universal Credit.
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