Last week Rye News received a circular from the Hastings Labour party telling of a campaign they were running to bring back a Job Centre that they said operated until 2015 from the Tilling Green community Centre.
Their complaint was that Rye needed a Job Centre because of the inconvenience, time and cost of getting to the Job Centre in Hastings especially if the applicant were coming from Camber where they quoted a cost of £13 return and a two-hour journey each way.
It sounded like a good case they were putting forward and the Party were out on the streets of Rye with a petition for the public to sign.
Are they right?
However we all know that political parties of all colours are apt to make statements and claims that are not always totally accurate, but this is important to many people on low incomes, so we thought we would take an independent look at the situation.
First, was there a Job Centre in Rye until 2015? No there wasn’t. There certainly were work coaches who ran a drop-in centre from the Tilling Green Community Centre, but work coaches are not a Job Centre or anything like a Job Centre. Despite this, and having been given the opportunity to correct it, Hastings Labour and their parliamentary candidate Peter Chowney, are still calling it a Job Centre.
So what about the rest. Does it really cost £13 to go from Camber to Hastings? I asked the Hastings Labour Party and they said that it could cost that if a job seeker was coming from Camber to Rye and then took the train to Hastings. However, they admitted that the journey could be done by bus for just £7.30 – half the figure they are making public – with a Stagecoach Day Rider ticket. I appreciate that £7.30 is still a lot for someone with very little, but it is not £13, so let’s get it right.
Neither does it take two hours to go from Camber to Hastings. Camber to Rye is timed at 20 minutes and Rye to Hastings station at 45 minutes, both journeys by bus and a further 10 minutes from there to the nearest point to the Job Centre. For most of the day there is less than a seven-minute wait in Rye when changing buses. A total of 1 hour 22 minutes. The same timing applies to the return journey.
Yes, the journey is still inconvenient and the cost is still money that some people can ill afford and the case for something more accessible is still a valid one. So why destroy your own argument with exaggerations that can do easily be proved wrong – goodness knows we have all had enough of this over Brexit for the last few years without the habit trickling down to other issues.
So what does the Government say?
But, as I have said, it is a valid issue, so I went and asked Amber Rudd, who as well as our MP is also Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, and therefore in charge of Job Centres, what she was doing about it.
Quite a lot, it would seem, from information I received today (Wednesday July 31).
She tells me that in addition to the new and extended service centre in Hastings, announced a few months ago, job seekers in Rye will receive support individually tailored to them which will include changes to how often they need to go to Hastings and the option of face-to-face support in Rye as part of a new Wellness Hub coming to the town.
On the face of it, this, while not a Job Centre as such, would seem to go well beyond the original job coaches of a few years ago and by reducing the need to go into Hastings and providing specialist support and assistance, should make a big difference to those seeking work.
So it would seem that not only has the petition been answered even before it was presented, but what is being planned is rather more than was available before.
I know there are many of our readers, and including this writer, have become more than a little cynical regarding politicians’ pronouncements over the last few years and will adopt the attitude of ‘ I’ll believe it when I see it’ – and who can blame them – but Amber Rudd has nailed her colours to the mast on this particular issue so I think we can be reasonably assured that it will happen. We have been given no timetable yet, but we will be watching.
Image Credits: DWP .