John Healey MP has criticised plans to close a job centre in an area where the rate of disability is three times the national average and unemployment is double.

The government has said it wants to shut 78 job centres, including Goldthorpe in Rotherham.

But John, MP for Goldthorpe, has hit out at the move and written to the minister for employment, Damian Hinds MP, opposing the closure and demanding a meeting.

> Read John’s letter to the Minister for Employment

Answers to his Parliamentary Questions revealed the decision was based on geography, the government has not carried out an impact assessment and is unable to say how many disabled people will be affected.

John said: “This plan is outrageous and will hurt the most vulnerable.

“Someone in London has looked at Google maps and thought they could save money by making people from the Dearne travel to Mexborough.

“But they have no idea what the impact will be in the Dearne – where you are three times more likely to have a long-term illness or disability and twice as likely to be out of work.

“Taking a bus from Thurnscoe to Mexborough can take up to an hour, and there’s no guarantee the journey won’t get worse or become impossible. Stagecoach are already cancelling buses because of government funding cuts, and they’ve told me more services will go.

“Closing Goldthorpe job centre will make it much harder for people to get help and find work. It will mean more sanctions, and more desperate people forced to use food banks.

“The government should be giving people in the Dearne more help, not less. After all, it was the last Tory government that threw the last generation on the dole when they closed the pits.”

A consultation on the closures is under way and closes on 28 February.