A VISIT TO BATH JOBCENTRE
The Somerset Guardian, 20th February 2019
Last Friday I visited the Jobcentre in Bath to talk to staff about how it has developed from a place where people are assisted in looking for jobs to an all-round centre that deals with employment, benefits, physical and mental health and addiction.
During my visit I was guided around the four-floored office and spoke to a number of staff who have received training to deal with the increased scope of the jobcentre. Sensibly, customers are able to have discussions with organisations such as Curo which has an office on site. The staff told me that this joined-up, in-house delivery of services makes them feel as though they are making a real difference to their customers, especially as the processes are implemented from the bottom up. Their commitment, warmth and friendliness impressed me a great deal.
I was keen to talk about the staff’s experience with Universal Credit, something that has been much-maligned in the press. It was especially pertinent as Bath and North East Somerset was chosen to be a guinea pig whilst the pilot scheme was being rolled out. Whilst they said that it had brought a new set of challenges – the current system has absorbed people with a wide range of needs that they were not previously equipped to deal with - the overall conclusion was positive. I was told that, in short, Universal Credit is helping.
Finally, I was delighted to hear that some Bath Spa students are continuing IT classes to help people enhance their computer literacy. This really is admirable not only because people are being encouraged to increase their abilities but they also have somebody to talk to. Sometimes this can be the most important thing in the world.