A campaign for a return of a Job Centre to Rye has been launched by Labour members.
Back in 2015 the drop-in service based at the Tilling Green Community Centre was closed.
As a result, jobseekers and benefit claimants from the Rye area have been left with no choice but to face a 21-mile round trip to Hastings and back just to sign on.
Some claimants are forced to pay £13.00 for this journey, which is a quarter of jobseeker’s weekly allowance.
Labour Hastings and Rye has launched a campaign calling on Job Centre services to return to the town and its members were out on the streets collecting signatures for a petition on Friday (July 26).
Peter Chowney, Labour leader of Hastings Borough Council, said: “The closure of Rye Job Centre has been a big problem for jobseekers and claimants in Rye and the surrounding villages. The journey into Hastings can be long and expensive, and from Camber takes almost two hours in each direction.
“It’s completely unreasonable that people living in the eastern part of our constituency should have to put up with this. We need a job centre to be re-established in Rye as soon as possible.”
At Rye Job Centre, internet and computer facilities were available so that claimants could apply for jobs if they could not afford their own.
Jenny, a former Job Centre claimant said: “You made use of the employability courses to help people get back into work. It was a great shame when it closed and these stopped suddenly. It would make a big difference, help people back into work and improve people’s wellbeing.”
Campaigners argue the relocation of the vital service has meant those out of work have struggled ever since, and if they are unable to afford the lengthy journey or are delayed by bus or train could face sanctions.
The campaign is demanding an end to this entrenchment of rural poverty, by reopening the old Job Centre in Tilling Green Community Centre or by creating a new one in Rye Library, which campaigners argue would also be a suitable location.