DWP accused of reneging on promise of jobs for staff at Cumnock site after closure

Chris McQuade

Union representative says workforce have been “left in limbo” by bosses

STAFF at a child support agency office facing closure face being made redundant as government cuts to DWP services start to kick in.

Employees at the Cumnock site in Ayrshire told CommonSpace they had been “guaranteed” jobs as part of a redeployment scheme when they met with bosses in January.

The office is set to close in March next year.

“Everybody is in a state of “is this going to happen” we’re kind of fearful.” Gordon Lamour

But PCS Union representative Gordon Lamour told us 83 staff members have been “left in limbo” by bosses who claimed they would be relocated to jobs in nearby Kilmarnock when the Cumnock site closes.

Lamour said: “They told us there was spaces for everyone in Kilmarnock, and we would all be going to Kilmarnock.

“But as it transpires, they can only confirm 39 full time equivalent (FTE) posts in Kilmarnock. We have to fill out a redundancy package, so we’re all declared “unassigned” – so we’re all at risk of being made redundant.”

Staff admitted to CommonSpace they have known since January the site would be closing, but claimed they only found out there may be redundancies two weeks ago after being left in the dark by superiors.

Lamour claimed the main issue staff had was being left “in the dark” for eight months when they could have been applying for jobs elsewhere if they had known they could face redundancies.

Lamour said: “Everybody is in a state of “is this going to happen” we’re kind of fearful. I’m fearful now that these 39 positions could be filled by other staff from throughout the country.”

Estimated figures of staff seeking “re-deployment” due to office closures range between 750–800 UK wide.

Lamour added: “The impact that this will make on this town, they’re taking 80-odd people out of this town.

“We spend £100,000 on the local economy, and that’s not including the people who actually live here. It’s a small town, and it’s going to lose a big chunk of cash.”

The DWP hopes to save £140m over the next 10 years by closing down many of their centres. A total of 21 centres, including Cumnock, will close as part of the scheme.

“This announcement has been shambolically handled today by the UK Government who are yet again ignoring the needs of people in Scotland.” Jamie Hepburn MSP

Speaking when the UK Government announced the closures, Scottish Employment Minister Jamie Hepburn said: “This announcement has been shambolically handled today by the UK Government who are yet again ignoring the needs of people in Scotland.

“Not only have they announced these closures without any advance consultation with the communities who will be affected, they also bypassed the Scottish Government, going against the principles of the Smith Agreement.

“These disproportionate cuts to Scottish services will lead to people across Scotland, especially those in rural areas, facing increased transport costs and additional travelling time, particularly those required to engage with their Work Coach daily or weekly.

A DWP spokesperson said: “As we’ve previously announced, with the child maintenance work staff at our Killoch House are involved in coming to an end, we plan to close the site.

“We’re determined to find alternative employment for all employees affected, and remain committed to keeping redundancies to a minimum. Throughout, we have been holding individual discussions with our staff and continue to work closely with the PCS.”

Picture courtesy of Google

Look at how important CommonSpace has become, and how vital it is for the future #SupportAReporter