Campaigners in uproar as people of Scotland bear the brunt of job centre and service closures by Westminster
CAMPAIGNERS have reacted with fury to news of the closure of 15 more job centre sites around Scotland by the UK Government.
Eight site cuts will take place in Glasgow alone. Glasgow MPs, MSPs and campaigners around the country damning the action as “a cruel experiment on Scotland”.
Although the UK Government claims the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) will save £180m, opponents state that such closures will leave claimants having to use their limited resources to travel further and risk more sanctions.
“This Tory Government’s slash and burn approach to civil service jobs and buildings needs to stop right now.” Alison Thewliss
Alison Thewliss, MP for Glasgow Central said: “Last month this Tory Government delivered a body blow to communities all across our city by proposing to shut half of Glasgow’s Jobcentres. That consultation is still running and the fight to save those Jobcentres is still ongoing.
“Now we learn that UK Ministers are planning to scrap even more of the DWP estate in Glasgow by shutting down Government back offices. This comes on the back of recent HMRC cuts in Scotland, which we were told wouldn’t happen if Scotland rejected independence in 2014. That was obviously a blatant lie.
“These erratic Tory plans raise a number of very serious questions for Glasgow. Where are the jobs being transferred to? What consultation has been carried out with staff? How does this fit into the current proposals to shut half of Glasgow’s Jobcentres?”
“Our research shows that around one third of Scottish CAB clients are unable to use a computer to apply for work or benefits, due to either lack of access or lack of skills.” Rob Gowan
In December, it was announced by the UK Government that half of Glasgow’s 16 jobcentres would shut to save money and reflect a greater use of online and phone services. The announcement today brings the number of closures since December up to 20.
The closures will affect seven job centres where claimants go to make claims for unemployment, finding work and assessments for benefit claims. But eight of the sites will be jobcentre administration sites which deal with calls and the physical organisation of claims, meaning hundreds of jobs will be lost when they close or merge. No other such planned closure has taken place in English cities so far.
DWP administration centres due to be closed are located in Aberdeen, Greyfriars House, Coatbridge, Cumnock, Glasgow Portcullis House, Glasgow Corunna House, two sites in Inverness and one in Lonend, Paisley.
The job centre closures that provide direct sit-down services to people will be in Alexandria, Benbecula, Broxburn, St Andrew Street in Edinburgh, Lanark, Larkhall, Port Glasgow and Girnigoe in Wick.
“I’m also concerned at what this means for staff. Staff should not pay the price for UK Ministers’ obsession with cutting back on social protections.” Alison Johnstone
The Scottish Greens responded to the announcement by the UK Government by branding the move as “wrong-headed”.
Their social security spokesperson and MSP for Lothian, Alison Johnstone said: “The UK Government appears determined to punish the very people who need the most support in our society. They should be making it easier, not harder, to find employment.
“Not everyone has reliable access to the internet or can afford to make the numerous phone calls needed to speak to prospective employers. There’s also the cost of travelling longer distances to job centres. It’s simply wrong-headed.
“I’m also concerned at what this means for staff. Staff should not pay the price for UK Ministers’ obsession with cutting back on social protections.”
“These erratic Tory plans raise a number of very serious questions for Glasgow.” Alison Thewliss
The DWP has insisted that 2,500 more work coaches will be hired and the closures of the sites would bring greater efficency to the welare administration system.
However Thewliss, who plans to write to the UK employment minister Damian Hinds, added: “UK Government Ministers have been at great pains to stress the Jobcentre closures are only proposals, but how can Glaswegians trust them with these new cuts coming like a bolt from the blue? I am demanding an urgent meeting with DWP Ministers to get answers on these incredibly serious questions. This Tory Government’s slash and burn approach to civil service jobs and buildings needs to stop right now.”
Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) who fiercely opposed the proposal to close half of Glasgow’s Jobcentres in December stated that they feared the decision would impact most on those who are already struggling in the city.
Speaking to CommonSpace, CAS spokesman Rob Gowans said: “Our research shows that around one-third of Scottish CAB clients are unable to use a computer to apply for work or benefits, due to either lack of access or lack of skills. These people tend to be among the most deprived, and the most financially vulnerable. They rely on access to the face-to-face support that jobcentres provide.
“Our concern is that these proposed closures are very extensive, in a city which already has a high number of people who need help to find work and practical access to social security.”
Picture courtesy of YouTube
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