POLISH people in Accrington are having trouble accessing the services provided by Jobcentre Plus, according to the chairman of a support group.
Father Martin Saunders, chairman of the Parasol group set up to provide support for migrant workers, has written to the Accrington office and the area manager based at Burnley, stating that Polish customers are being treated unacceptably.
It is estimated that there around 2,000 Poles living in Hyndburn.
Father Saunders wrote: “The staff at Jobcentre Plus in Accrington are turning Polish customers away.
“You do not permit your Polish-speaking customer service officer to help us.
“The Polish community wishes for you to stop this discrimination and permit us to access the Polish adviser.
“Many people who have applied for Jobcentre benefits are now living without income for months because your office fails to communicate with customers.”
Jobcentre Plus said Father Saunders had visited the office in July 2006 regarding his concerns.
A spokesman said: “We are committed to treating all our customers in a fair and open manner, with courtesy and objectivity.
“Jobcentre Plus does not employ interpreters.
“Customers who have language difficulties which impact on their ability to access Jobcentre Plus services can bring an interpreter to the Jobcentre.
“Alternatively, the Jobcentre can arrange an interpreter on their behalf.
“We are fortunate in having a member of staff in Accrington who speaks Polish.
“We do make use of her language skills, prioritising her availability for those customers who have the most difficulty with English alongside her other duties.
“However, it should be stressed she is not employed as an interpreter but acts on a voluntary basis, as do other members of staff who have skills in other languages.”