Backbench Business

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 3:06 pm on 16th March 2017.

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Photo of Heidi Alexander Heidi Alexander Labour, Lewisham East 3:06 pm, 16th March 2017

I entirely agree with my right hon. Friend, who has huge expertise and experience in this area. Ministers need to review the criteria that they use to determine which closures are subject to full public consultation processes. We have not yet seen an equality impact assessment of the closures, which is absolutely critical in a London context, for the reasons that I have set out.

I urge the Minister to have an eye to the future as opposed to the past. The Government might pat themselves on the back over employment rates—we could have a discussion another time about the nature of the employment that has been created in recent years—but they need to think about what might happen over the next couple of years. I detect some complacency among Ministers about Brexit and its economic consequences. In my constituency, we are heavily dependent on jobs in the financial services industry and in professional services that support industry such as cleaning, security and employment agencies. Some of my low-paid constituents work in retail and hospitality.

I am concerned about the prospects for employment should we see the movement of financial services from London to other cities in Europe. If we are likely to see an increasing caseload in jobcentres, allied to the issues that my right hon. Friend Stephen Timms has set out about how individuals’ interaction with jobcentres is changing, then the Government’s proposal is short-sighted and could have serious long-term consequences for people’s ability to get back into employment. I ask the Minister to review the closures across London and to look in detail at what provision can be made in central Lewisham for my own jobcentre.