Wythenshawe Jobcentre Closed After Break-In And Fire
Wythenshawe ’s Jobcentre has been closed after arsonists broke in and torched the building – with nearly 2,000 benefits claimants affected.
Firefighters were called to Simon House on Wavell Road on Saturday evening after reports of smoke and flames coming from the first floor.
Police closed off the street and part of nearby Brownley Road as crews tackled the blaze at around 10pm.
It is understood the building was broken into, before a fire was started on the first floor.
The entire first floor, where up to 50 staff work, was destroyed – meaning officials have had to urgently scramble to send staff to other centres.
Windows and walls were left charred after the flames ripped through the building.
A spokeswoman for Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service said three fire engines were sent to the site, with crews tackling the flames for three hours.
A joint investigation with police has been launched, with the blaze being treated as arson.
Almost 2,000 benefits claimants will have to go elsewhere for face-to-face help, with staff also having to redeployed to alternative sites across the region.
A Department for Work and Pensions spokeswoman said the first floor of the building was destroyed – and that the building had to be cleared on Monday.
The ground floor was left with considerable water damage after the sprinkler system was activated.
The Jobcentre, which serves 1,937 benefits claimants, will be closed ‘for the foreseeable future’, according to Department for Work and Pensions chiefs,
It is understood some outreach work will taken on by eight staff already based at nearby Wythenshawe Forum.
Only a ‘limited’ amount of work will be taken on by staff there, however.
Around 50 staff from the Jobcentre deployed to other nearby sites, wherever they can be accommodated.
People will still be able to access telephone and online services.
If Jobcentre staff need to see a claimants face-to-face, appointments will be made at other nearby facilities.
It is not yet known the extent of damage to claimant records and Jobcentre data.
The damage will be assessed as police and fire chiefs continue their investigation.