A CAMPAIGNER has launched an e-petition against a Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) decision to remove customer access phones from Jobcentres.
Robert Inman, aged 21, spent time as a jobseeker and said the phones — which could be used to call potential employers, to speak with the DWP directly or to contact other departments — were vital during his period of unemployment.
He added: “I currently work at Asda, but I was a jobseeker and I used those phones a lot.
“They were free phones, but a lot of the numbers for the jobcentres are 0845 numbers, which people on benefits can’t afford, so the free phones really did help people.”
The DWP said it was planning to “bring Jobcentres into the 21st century” by replacing phones in centres as well as Jobpoint machines, which can be used to browse for available jobs.
Instead there will be 6,000 new computers and Wi-Fi access.
A spokesman said: “This is part of a nationwide programme that sees greater levels of individual support to help claimants get back into employment.
“New computers and Wi-Fi access are being installed across Britain’s jobcentres to make sure claimants have the right help to get into work.”
But Mr Inman, from Halliwell, said this might not work for everyone.
He added: “The DWP has said it is part of modernisation, but for many people the phones were what they needed and, as yet, they haven’t been replaced.”
The DWP said more than 80 per cent of claims to Jobseeker’s Allowance are now made online and that as Universal Credit continues to be rolled out, more claimants will be interacting with the department over the internet.
To sign Mr Inman’s petition go to: epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/61184