Dursley unemployed face more costs to sign on
1:59pm Thursday 3rd October 2013 in News
THE POOREST in Dursley and the surrounding area could face a further tightening of their belts if Chancellor George Osborne’s plans for the long-term unemployed go ahead.
At the Conservative Party Conference on Monday, September 30, the Chancellor suggested those out of work for extended periods could be forced to undertake community work, attend a job centre every day or go on a full-time intensive programme to tackle the underlying reasons for their failure to work.
For those without a job in Dursley and nearby, it could mean a 20-mile or more trip everyday to visit the nearest Job Centre in Stroud or a daily £6 bus journey.
Labour’s parliamentary candidate for the Stroud constituency, David Drew, said there were many reasons why it was “the wrong answer to the wrong problem”.
“Firstly, people who are long term unemployed make up less than a quarter of one per cent of the welfare bill, a tiny part of it,” he said.
“They need proper jobs to be created plus support to get those jobs - rather than a punishment if they can’t find a non-existent job.
“With only one Job Centre, in Stroud, the unemployed face a very difficult time and a growing financial burden in terms of the cost of transport to sign on.”
Gloucestershire County Cllr Steve Lydon (Lab, Dursley) said the decision to close Dursley Job Centre in 2005 was at a time when unemployment was very low.
“Considering that Dursley now has some of the highest unemployment in the Stroud district and that the cost of a return bus fare is about £6, residents of Dursley, Cam, Berkeley and surrounding villages are disadvantaged compared to those in Stroud,” he said.
“£6 is a lot to find out of Job Seekers’ Allowance every fortnight and some people will need two buses to get to Stroud. Finding that amount of bus fare to sign on every day will be impossible.”
After previous failed attempts to have somewhere considered in Cam or Dursley for people to sign on, Cllr Lydon said he would try again.
Conservative Stroud MP Neil Carmichael who held several events at the Conservative Conference said it was important to point out that it was the last Labour Government who closed the Dursley Job Centre, a move which he opposed.
“I think it is a very good idea. They should be encouraged to think about making every effort to find work,” he said.
“Obviously in rural areas these issues need to be considered very carefully and I agree with that point about transport costs, but I recognise the value of close contact with those that can help you find work.”
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