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6 April, 2021 Open access

PCS expresses ‘serious concern’ at DWP’s decision to increase face-to-face activity in jobcentres from 12 April 2021

However, Union advises that it has received assurances from Department that work coaches will remain 'empowered' to decide the most appropriate channel to communicate with their claimants

The Public and Commercial Services (PCS) Union has expressed 'serious concern' at the DWP's decision to increase face-to-face activity in jobcentres from 12 April 2021.

While the DWP has announced that normal jobcentre opening hours would be resuming from 12 April 2021 - having been reduced as a result of the Covid-19 lockdown - the PCS highlights that the Department had reassured the Union that bringing claimants back into jobcentres will be a gradual process, and that there will be no rush to return to a full service.

However, although the DWP originally advised the PCS that the new opening hours are linked to specific work - the 'Plan for Jobs' initiative, Interviews under Caution, and National Insurance number activity - the Union says it has now been advised by its members that many more claimant groups are being asked to come into a jobcentre for a face-to-face interview from 12 April including - 

Expressing serious concern that the new developments will mean many more people attending the jobcentre and therefore increase the risk of contracting Covid-19, the Union says that it has written to the DWP and awaits a response.

In addition, the PCS advises that it had raised concerns with senior DWP management that work coaches will be mandated to carry out face-to-face interviews, but has received assurances from the Department that 'work coach empowerment' remains in place and staff will have autonomy on how they communicate with claimants.

For more information, see Anger at DWP decision to increase face-to-face activity from pcs.org.uk

Update (7 April 2021) - while emphasising its opposition to the DWP's decision to increase face-to-face services, the PCS DWP Group has issued Health and Safety guidance to 'robustly protect' its members' safety in respect of face-to-face appointments; risk assessments; interviews under caution; social distancing measures; maximum occupancy levels; and people with underlying health conditions and disabilities; and ventilation standards.