Unemployed people in Colne face a longer journey to seek work with the news that the town's Jobcentre is likely to close.
The Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) has announced a consultation over its future - prompting anger from local councillors and Pendle MP Andrew Stephenson.
If the closure goes ahead, staff would be transferred from the Colne Market Street office to Nelson's Netherfield Road branch by March 31st, 2018.
Coun. Joe Cooney said: “I’m deeply disappointed by The DWP announcement. There has been no consultation with local stakeholders, including councillors.
I understand the DWP needs to pare its cost base, and claimants will be able to claim travel expenses to reach Nelson’s Job Centre, so they won’t be out of pocket. However, we believe The DWP seems to have failed to consider the already wide catchment area Colne Jobcentre serves and the difficulty many claimants will have getting to Nelson.”
In a letter sent to Andrew Stephenson MP, the rationale for possibly closing the centre was given as “part of DWP’s continued drive to deliver public services in more innovative and cost effective ways. We have sought to ensure that the estate from which we operate continues to meet the changing needs of our business and our claimants.”
Mr Stephenson said: "At this stage, this is a proposal and no definite decision has been made. I recognise the need for The DWP to prioritise its funding for advisors and job coaches rather than the fixed costs associated with buildings and given the substantial fall in unemployment since 2010 its only right we review how we deliver services.
I have already spoken with local DWP staff to express my deep reservations about this proposal and I will be meeting the Minister soon to raise these concerns directly with him. I will also work local councillors to see if an alternative solution can be found.”