A JOBS fair is being held today for the hundreds of workers made redundant at the Southampton call centre of British Gas.

The company has told 500 staff their jobs will go with the closure of its call centre in St Mary’s Road by the end of the year.

Twenty companies, including Aviva, Barclays, Capita and Hampshire Police, will attend a recruitment fair today at the Southampton Novotel hotel hosted by British Gas, in partnership with Southampton City Council and Job Centre Plus. But British Gas said it had not been told how many vacancies were available.

Staff were left stunned when British Gas announced in April it was closing its Dorset House call centre in a cost cutting review.

The energy giant, which last year posted £522m profits, said 50 staff could transfer to Chandler’s Ford, while proposing the majority of the Southampton work would be transferred to Leeds, Manchester and Cardiff.

The announcement came as insurance giant Zurich said it was making 163 workers redundant at its offices in Whiteley, and HSBC and Clydesdale banks announced 100 Southampton jobs were at risk.

Andy Eley, general manager of British Gas in Southampton said: “The proposal to close our Southampton office was an extremely difficult decision for us to take which is why we are doing everything we can to support our employees throughout this time.”

Southampton City Council leader Richard Williams said: “We have been working closely with British Gas and other agencies to support their workers and one initiative is this jobs fair, which could help to identify opportunities and provide insight into how workers can develop their skills to find suitable alternative employment in the region.”

The Southampton dole queue stood at 5,690 in April, with three jobseekers chasing each vacancy, according to latest official figures.

A consultation on the redundancies runs until August.