Seven job centre offices in Wales earmarked for closure
Seven job centres across Wales have been earmarked for closure, it has been announced.
The services would be merged with other job centres or moved to council buildings, under plans by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).
The UK government said it would save money, with office spaces under-used and claims online increasing.
But the PCS union criticised the move, saying it would force unemployed people to travel further.
The Jobcentre Plus offices set to close in Wales:
- Llandrindod Wells - to be moved to a council building
- Mountain Ash - to be merged with the job centre in Aberdare
- Newtown - to be moved to a council building
- Pyle - to be merged with the job centre in Porthcawl
- Tredegar - to be merged with the job centre in Ebbw Vale
- Ystradgynlais - to be moved to a council building
- Blackwood - a new local office to be acquired
Two back offices will also be merged under the plans - the office in Porth with one in Caerphilly, and the office in Llanelli with the main office in Swansea.
The DWP said it did not intend to make JobCentre Plus staff redundant and would be holding discussions with them about redeployment.
A consultation would be held with claimants who would have to travel more than three miles (5km) or 20 minutes by public transport to sign-on, it added.
Other offices across the UK are also set to close, with the DWP saying the move would save about £180m a year over the next 10 years.
The UK government's Minster for Employment Damian Hinds said: "The planned changes will be made in consultation with staff taking into account the impact on benefit claimants and DWP staff.
"The vast majority of staff will have the option to relocate or offered alternative roles."
But the PCS union's general secretary Mark Serwotka said: "Jobcentres provide a lifeline for unemployed people and forcing them to travel further is not only unfair, it undermines support to get them back to work.
"We are opposed to these closures and will vigorously fight any attempt to force DWP workers out of their jobs."
Carmarthenshire council leader Emlyn Dole said closure of the back office in Llanelli would be a " tremendous loss" for the town and the wider economy.
"I will be taking the matter up with the Welsh Government as a priority in order to see what can be done to minimise any losses," he added.
"We will also be asking the Department for Work and Pensions to reconsider its decision."