A new health assessment centre for the Department for Work and Pensions is set to open in Dundee.
Plans submitted to Dundee City Council on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to move into the empty office space on the ground floor of Seabraes House have been approved.
The health assessment centre will, according to the application, provide space for people attending for “consultations and discussions relating to benefit and support claims”.
The reporting officer determined the new site would be in an “accessible location” and could “potentially support linked trips to businesses” in the Perth Road and City Centre areas.
Since the centre will handle pre-booked appointments only, it was determined there will not be a significant number of people in the building at any one time.
Cushman and Wakefield, the agent working on behalf of the DWP, originally claimed the move to Seabraes House was in part due to a “backlog” of assessments, as well as an increase in the number of new claimants resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic.
But this was refuted by a spokeswoman for the DWP, with a spokeswoman saying the move was already on the cards before the pandemic hit because a current lease was due to expire and could not be renewed.
In a statement given to the Tele at the time, she said: “The planning application made on our behalf is inaccurate.
“We have asked our agents to look into this matter and to clarify our position with Dundee City Council’s planning department as soon as possible.”
However, in a report detailing the decision to approve the plans, the planning officer highlighted that the current economic situation resulting from the pandemic made the application “particularly important at this time” due to the impact on “local jobs and businesses.”
It was also noted that the retention of DWP facilities within Dundee would help to provide services to members of the public required to seek support.
Figures released by the DWP in May revealed that the number of people in Dundee claiming universal credit rose by a whopping 517% in the first month of lockdown.
Statistics published by the Office for National Statistics, sourced from the Department for Work and Pensions, show 3,396 people registered for the benefit between March 12 and April 9.
This meant that, after moves to other JobCentres are taken into account, the total number of claimants on file at the Dundee JobCentre stands at 13,157, up 2,633 from 10,524 the previous month.