Campaigners today staged a protest outside a job centre which will shut its doors later this week.

Benefits claimants living in the Leyton and Leytonstone areas who are using the Jobcentre in Leytonstone’s Kirkdale Road will be forced to travel to Walthamstow after it closes on Friday, July 27.

The Department for Works and Pensions (DWP) had originally sought to close two out of its three offices in Waltham Forest but following pressure from campaign groups, the office in Walthamstow’s Forest Road will remain open.

Waltham Forest Stand Up For Your Rights, the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) which represents jobcentre workers, Waltham Forest Trades Council, the Labour Party and UNITE Community say the closure will have a detrimental effect on claimants.

Martin Goodsell of Waltham Forest Stand Up For Your Rights, which supports local benefits claimants, said, "This closure will result in longer waits for claimants to be seen, additional transport costs for claimants, and longer journey times for claimants travelling to Walthamstow from Leyton and Leytonstone.

“It can take 45 to 60 minutes to do that journey at busy times on public transport."

People with the postcodes E10 and E11 will be dealt with in a new job centre in a ground-floor office in Walthamstow’s Westbury Road.

Campaigning have condemned the fact that DWP are expecting claimants, including people with disabilities and single parents, to pay for travel costs to Walthamstow.

The have expressed concern about the possibility of sanctions against claimants including the suspension of benefits if they are late for appointments.

PCS believes the closure of Leytonstone jobcentre will lead to an overcrowded Walthamstow job centre and reduce unemployed people’s prospects of finding work.

Sharon Leslie of PCS said: “The rollout of Universal Credit is leading to the closure of Jobcentres and the loss of face to face accessible services for claimants.

“The DWP should halt Universal Credit and retain a Jobcentre in Leytonstone.

“Many claimants will receive less money under Universal Credit but also have to pay extra travel costs to Walthamstow when Leytonstone closes."

Dave Knight of Waltham Forest Trades Council pointed out that the local Overground train stations lack disabled access, which will make using that service impossible for some claimants.

He added: "Furthermore, threats of a reduction in local bus services could make matters even worse.

“And there could be knock on effects. For example, the already overstretched Citizens Advice in Hoe Street will come under even more customer demand and the already under resourced library on the High Street will be further stretched to provide computer time and assistance to claimants."

Waltham Forest Stand Up For Your Rights holds a drop in session for Waltham Forest benefit claimants on the third Thursday of every month at 2pm at Harmony Hall in Truro Road, Walthamstow.

A spokesman for the DWP said: "The changes we are making to our estate across the country will offer a more efficient service, and deliver good value for the taxpayer - saving over £135 million a year, for the next 10 years.

“Some smaller jobcentres are merging with larger ones, and others will be co-located within local government premises.

"These changes reflect the fact that more people access their benefits online, resulting in many of our buildings being underused.

"Claimants will be informed in advance of the closure and jobcentre work coaches will provide help and assistance to them during the merger."