THERE are places I never want to visit again. 
The Jobcentre is pretty high on that list.
The trek to sign-on, the journey that means another two weeks has passed where you have been unable to find a job.
Another two weeks of letters that begin, “We regret to inform you…”
Two weeks of buying the Evening Times to check the situations vacant pages and calling the number to be told the job has already gone.
Then waiting in line to sign on, the moment when your status as unemployed is officially recorded and you realise once again you are a statistic.
When I was unemployed the Job Centre and the DSS office were separate entities before they were merged.
As well as the walk to the ‘buroo’ there was the trip to the Job Centre to check the job cards and enquire if there was any suitable vacancies.
That was made on several occasions each week. The Job Centre as it was called then before the two words inexplicably merged into one then ‘plus’ bolted on to the end, was ultimately where I found the way out of short but regular periods of unemployment.
Much has changed since those what seems like long ago days when I was unemployed and job hunting is a different experience now.
But some things remain. You still have to attend to sign on and the Jobcentre is still a place where you can access facilities to help with the search for work.
If you have no computer access then the Jobcentre is where you can get on line access to vacancies and use a phone line to enquire about or apply for jobs.
Which is why it is grossly unfair for the DWP to propose to close seven Jobcentres in the city.
Moving them, in some cases almost four miles away, is more than an inconvenience to people looking for work it will hinder their efforts and financially penalise them even further.
This proposal will not make it any easier for anyone to find a job, which should be the purpose of the DWP and Jobcentre Plus, instead it will make life difficult which some believe is their purpose.
People with childcare responsibilities will find it much harder to put a child into school or nursery and then get to the Jobcentre for an early morning appointment. 
Failure to meet appointments on time could lead to sanctions and the scandalous consequences of that which we have seen all over the city in recent years.
The purpose of this exercise is to save the DWP money. People are sanctioned to save the DWP money. 
This will make sanctions more likely not less likely so will save more money for the DWP.
At the same time it is adding to the financial difficulties of people looking for work.
In most cases it involves a bus trip that will cost the maximum fare.
Jobcentres should be free. If you have to travel to get there and back it is no longer free.
This decision by the DWP is another example of the UK Government’s obsession with austerity which puts the burden disproportionately on the shoulders of those who can afford it least.
It should be stopped.