Almost 100 workers at the Department for Work and Pensions files store in Brunswick Street, Nelson, are to lose their jobs.
The 96 staff – of whom around 30 are agency workers and the rest members of the Public and Commercial Services Union – were notified of the closure decision at lunchtime on Thursday.
The announcement ends years of speculation over the future of a site known locally as the “Archives”.
Managers Capita said the closure would enable DWP and themselves to streamline the file holding with the advent of the new benefit types, Universal Credit and Personal Independence Payment, and rationalise the estates due to decreased physical file holding.
A spokesman said: “During the move and on completion, all staff will be kept up to date. Where necessary, a thorough and meaningful consultation will be undertaken with all affected employees and relevant redeployment opportunities within Capita will be fully explored.”
The closure decision was condemed by PCSU spokeman Caroline Turner.
After visiting the site on Friday, she said: “The announcement of the closure of the Scholefield Mill has come as a devastating blow to staff.
“Employees are in shock as there was no prior indication the site would close.
“Staff have worked hard over the years to meet every target set for them by Capita and the Government.
“PCS condemns this decision and notes the bitter irony of the Department for Work and Pensions deciding to add to the lengthening dole queue by closing a site in an area of high unemployment.
“Staff working at the Nelson site and the local community will share our anger at hearing the local MP ‘welcomes’ the decision.
“The Tory-led coalition of which Mr Stephenson is a member has been a disaster for Nelson.
“Closing the Nelson Filestores will add to the dole queue, will hit local businesses and destroy people’s lives and the wider community.
“Our union and our members will be doing everything in our power to keep the site open and ensure the Government and Capita honour their commitments to find work for every member of staff currently employed at the site”.
Pendle MP Andrew Stephenson said: “The loss of jobs at the Scholefield Mill site is regrettable and I appreciate the decision will be a tough one for those who work there.
“I visited the site in April and met with management and employees. Capita have kept me informed about the process and will be keeping me informed as the site winds down.
“The decision to close the site and move all DWP records to a single site was one taken several years ago under the previous government.
“Implementing that decision has been delayed again and again but has frankly been inevitable for some time.
“The type of hard copy file storage at Scholefield Mill is outdated and I welcome the move to improve the way this sensitive and important data is kept.
“The challenge now is to ensure those affected can move on into other roles and in time that the site can be brought back into use.”