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Gloucestershire Business News

Argos building brought back to life as Jobcentre

Gloucester's former Argos store on Eastgate Street will have a new lease of life as a temporary Jobcentre.

The building will house around 49 work coaches working in a Covid safe environment to support all seven of the county's Jobcentres.

Work is currently underway to convert the building, which is set to be handed over on 12th April.

The Argos store closed in 2017, it then became home to reuse charity the Furniture Recycling Project, which moved out in 2019. Prior to becoming Argos, the four-storey unit at 44-50 Eastgate Street was home to a Co-op department store.

The new centre is one 80 new temporary Jobcentres across the UK announced by employment minister Mims Davies.

The sites, some of which are already up and running, will be in addition to the existing 639 Jobcentres already supporting those looking for work, and will house some of country's 13,500 new work coaches - 10,000 of which have already been recruited.

The temporary Jobcentres are the first phase of the programme to expand support in response to the pandemic, with dozens more expected to follow, to help millions of jobseekers from all over the UK find their next role and get back on track.

Mims Davies, minister for employment, said: "With more new, temporary Jobcentres in place in the heart of our communities, we can support even more people impacted by the pandemic to find work and progress into new roles.

"We've already boosted our DWP work coaches by 10,000 - and with these new local Jobcentres to operate from, we can drive forward our Plan for Jobs, creating fresh opportunity for people all across the country."

The government's Plan for Jobs is well underway with 150,000 Kickstart roles created for 16-24 year olds, over 40,000 people supported through sector-based work academies and thousands more set to get rapid digital support through the Job Finding Service (JFS).

The new temporary Jobcentres will follow in the footsteps of those that have been open throughout the pandemic, helping ensure staff can remain COVID secure in line with latest government guidelines.

The latest figures show that the numbers on Universal Credit continue to rise. Figures for Gloucestershire are:

• Cheltenham - 9,251 claimants

• Cotswold - 5,156 claimants

• Forest of Dean - 6,272 claimants

• Gloucester - 12,331 claimants

• Stroud - 7,170 claimants

• Tewkesbury - 6,080 claimants

Mims Davies, minister for employment, said: "Today's figures highlight the challenges facing us on our road to recovery, but there is reason for optimism with more workers on payrolls and over half a million vacancies out there.

"Our Plan for Jobs is delivering for people of all ages right across the country, and with the recruitment of an additional 10,000 work coaches and the opening of new Jobcentres in local communities, we're helping even more Brits back into work as we build back better from the pandemic."

Will Quince, minister for welfare delivery, said: "This government continues to support millions of people in need through Universal Credit. It is a key pillar of our response as we continue to move out of lockdown, and will remain as a vital safety net as we build back better.

"Our multi-billion-pound Plan for Jobs, including our flagship Kickstart Scheme for young people, is helping people back on their feet and will support nearly two million jobs."

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