Vulnerable Kirklees residents will struggle if council customer service centres close, warns UNISON

Proposals to close two customer services centres in Kirklees are likely to have the greatest impact on the most vulnerable members of the local community, says UNISON today (Monday).

A formal consultation to close the centres in Huddersfield and Dewsbury began last week. The plans could see the loss of more than 40 council jobs, warns the union.

Staff are currently being asked by UNISON if they would be prepared to take strike action to defend their jobs and the service they provide.

The centres provide support with issues including council tax, housing benefit and disabled travel advice.

Closing the centres would see those who rely on council services the most hit hardest by the cuts, says UNISON.

The proposals are part of Kirklees Council’s efforts to address a budget shortfall of around £20m.

UNISON Yorkshire and Humberside regional organiser Robin Symonds said: “Everyone knows the council is in a difficult financial position after over a decade of government cuts. But an alternative solution must be found.

“These customer service centres provide vital support for some of the most vulnerable people in Kirklees, offering an easy option so they can get help with important services.

“Closing them would be incredibly damaging to those who rely on the services. The council must find another way to save the cash.”

Concerns raised by staff who work in the centres were put to Kirklees Council’s cabinet by UNISON in a recent meeting.

UNISON Kirklees deputy convenor Susie Pavey said: “Every day, vulnerable and elderly residents, who would otherwise miss out on critical support, walk into centres asking for help.

“These people are the core customer base of the service, and they will be abandoned if these plans go ahead.

“Without the correct support many vulnerable citizens will simply fall through the net.”

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