Dearne MP John Healey urged a government minister to rethink plans to shut Goldthorpe job centre at a meeting on Monday (6 March).

Mr Healey called the meeting with employment minister Damian Hinds MP after the government said it wanted to shut 78 job centres, including Goldthorpe in Rotherham.

The MP argued it should be kept open because the rate of long-term illness or disability in the Dearne is three times the national average, and unemployment is double.

He also said that taking a bus from the Dearne to Mexborough can already take up to an hour, and was likely to become even more difficult with local bus companies warning services will be cancelled because of government funding cuts.

Answers to the MP’s 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.

Mr Healey said after the meeting: “The minister promised to consider the concerns I raised about how much a job centre is needed in Goldthorpe, and how difficult it would be for people in the Dearne to get to Mexborough instead.

“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.”

Mr Healey also argued that, if ministers are determined to press ahead with the closure, they should keep as much of the current job centre service as possible at an alternative site in Goldthorpe.

A consultation closed on 28 February and ministers are expected to make a decision next month.