PCS members across South East Wales are very angry about the complete lack of understanding about the local geography and the transport problems that the plans to close 5 DWP sites and move the work to an unconfirmed location. This is still unconfirmed but the design and location for a new DWP building was found on an architect's website. PCS is using this leaked potential site to expose why the plans are wrong and need to be scrapped.
It is being proposed to centralise the work and jobs out of Cwmbran Pension Centre, Newport Benefit Centre, Merthyr Benefit Centre, Caerphilly Benefit Centre and Gabalfa and move 1700 jobs to a potential site in Treforest Industrial Estate. This would have a serious impact on many of our members remaining in work and runs a real risk of redundancy.
One of our reps, Sian, undertook to show what the journey would mean for her, accompanied by the local MP.
Sian is a part-time worker so that she can balance work with bringing up 2 kids on her own. Currently she can work 6 hours a day and manage the school run. Something that the Department and the government are encouraging. This would be totally impossible from the potential new site.
The journey from home to the potential DWP North of Cardiff hub site and back took our PCS rep Sian 5 hours and 25 minutes today. This is on a good day when there is much less traffic because of the school holidays.
Sian doesn't live anywhere remote but the public transport links in South East Wales are very poor. Many of our members live in similar locations or further afield and the results of our PCS survey show the enormous impact of travel difficulties on our members.
We very much appreciate the time that Torfaen MP Nick Thomas-Symonds MP has spent today highlighting the problems with travel from his constituency to Treforest and all the support he has also given to the PCS campaign. We have had full support from all the Welsh MPs and AMs who represent the affected constituencies as well.
DWP needs to rethink their plans to close these 5 offices and relocate the work and jobs into somewhere so inaccessible. The 5 sites are all in communities where every job is needed and all the efforts of the Welsh Government and the Wales TUC are to encourage employers to move employment into these areas. All are communities where we see a raft of empty office buildings and high unemployment. The DWP should not make decisions that then make this situation far worse.
We are calling for the department to:
- Stop the DWP offfice closures
- Scrap DWP North of Cardiff hub plans and keep the 5 offices open
- Provide better jobs closer to home
- Invest in properly-resourced social security system.