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Labour Party members canvassing for a new job centre in Rye (photo: CLT).

Labour Party members canvassing for a new job centre in Rye (photo: CLT).

New job centre for Rye under study, says DWP

Labour’s campaign to get a job centre reopened in Rye has gained a lot of local support though it has yet to persuade the authorities, though the DWP confirms that studies are under way. Nick Terdre reports.

Since the campaign was launched in July, the Hastings and Rye Constituency Labour Party (CLT) has gained over 500 signatories for its petition through door-to-door visits, street stalls, leafleting and social media. The petition calls on local MP Amber Rudd, who at the time headed the Department for Work and Pensions, to reopen the drop-in Job Centre which operated at Tilling Green Community Centre.

Since it was closed in 2015, claimants have been faced with travelling to the Hastings Job Centre in St Leonards-on-Sea, which as many attest, is time-consuming and expensive for someone living on benefits.

In late July, Labour now reports, Rudd responded to a letter from the campaign saying that she was seeking comments on the previous service in Rye from the manager of the Hastings Job Centre.

She has not since been in touch with the campaigners, but Rye News reported in early August that it had been informed by her office that the service would be reinstated – “the intention being to provide a better service than before” – and would be located at Rye Hospital.

In September Rudd resigned from the DWP post and gave up the Conservative whip in Parliament, and is no longer in a position to direct events.

Wellness hub on the way

When asked to confirm Rye News’ report, Rudd’s office said it was “correct that a wellness hub is being set up at Rye Hospital to help vulnerable claimants.”

However, Rye, Winchelsea & District Memorial Hospital, the charity which is setting up the wellness or community hub, told HOT that though conversations had been held with voluntary action groups about the possible widening of the hub’s activities to include a job centre, the DWP had not been involved and no decision had been reached.

That is consistent with what a DWP spokesperson told HOT, that a feasibility study was ongoing for a possible job centre outreach service.

It also accords with the situation as understood by the CLT, which said in a press release, “…we have been informed by local advice workers and senior figures at Rye Hospital that no such [job centre] service has yet been confirmed at the new community hub on the hospital site.”

A second letter had been sent to Rudd asking for clarification and a meeting so she could hear at first hand how claimants have been negatively affected by the closure of the drop-in job center.

“The relocation of this vital service has meant those out of work have struggled ever since,” Labour said. “If they are unable to afford the lengthy journey, or are delayed by the bus or train, they find themselves sanctioned and even more unlikely to attend a job interview.”

When it opens in December, the community hub will offer forms of community care such as therapies and social activities.

 

See also Labour launches campaign to re-open Rye job centre

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted 20:11 Wednesday, Oct 9, 2019 In: Campaigns

1 Comment

Please read our comment guidelines before posting on HOT

  1. Patrick Burton

    Surely this campaign should go beyond just the Labour Party.

    Comment by Patrick Burton — Thursday, Oct 10, 2019 @ 08:53

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