Neath MP Peter Hain has attacked Iain Duncan Smith, Secretary of State for the Department of Work and Pensions, following the removal of the telephones from Ystradgynlais Jobcentre. In a move he called ‘astonishing’ Mr Hain has demanded that the phones be returned to the Jobcentre as they are ‘a lifeline to many in the community’.
The phones were removed at the beginning of May and in a letter to the Secretary of State the Neath MP said, ‘this is a vital service for jobseekers and people on benefits needing to call the help lines when they do not have access to a phone or cannot afford to call the 0845 numbers that are being used.
‘This will have a hugely negative impact on those already struggling to make ends meet by making it more and more difficult to speak with an official for the help they need. It will further compound problems for people fighting to find work in a fiercely competitive jobs market and who use the phones when looking and applying for jobs.
‘How are people supposed to actively look for work or get help if something has gone wrong with their benefits if facilities like these are taken away? The remote location of the communities Ystradgynlais Jobcentre serves means the phone lines are a lifeline to many in the community.’
Earlier in the year Mr Hain condemned the decision to remove the telephones from Neath Jobcentre and speaking against the DWP decision he said, ‘this is clearly a cost cutting exercise at whatever cost to the public. People are being prevented from accessing the kind of advice and assistance they need to get and are entitled to
“The benefits system is a nightmarish one of complexity and ambiguity. If you deprive claimants of person-to-person contact and force everyone to go online, it’s a recipe for disaster.
“There are fewer and fewer staff to deal even with those claimants able to go online, while there are many especially older clients who are not. This will simply lead to chaos and misery.”