The UK government has announced morally outrageous plans to close half of all Job Centres in Glasgow.
Last year, the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) announced a 20 per cent cut to its premises. But the disproportionate cut to Job Centres in Glasgow raises a concern that the city is being used as a guinea pig for more devastating cuts.
When SNP Depute Leader Angus Robertson MP raised the issue at Prime Minister’s Questions, the Tory Minister said that he would respond in writing. We don’t think that’s good enough.
Here’s what you need to know about these callous proposals.
1. The closures are being made in some of the poorest communities in Glasgow.
The Jobcentres earmarked for closure are: Norman House, Parkhead;Muslin Street, Bridgeton; Easterhouse; Castlemilk Arcade; Battelfield Road, Langside; Herschell Street, Anniesland; Main Street, Cambuslang; and Maryhill Road, Maryhill.
Glasgow has the highest share of communities in the 15 per cent most deprived areas of Scotland, and has the highest rate of child poverty of any local authority. The closing of half of all of the Jobcentre Plus offices in the city will only make accessing the vital support these centres offer more difficult.
2. With 74,000 people across Glasgow in receipt of Jobseeker’s Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance and Universal Credit, the impact could be huge for the most disadvantaged.
These changes will affect the same low income families who are already struggling at the hands of Tory austerity.
Many of those affected will have to travel further, at additional cost, to attend required appointments. For some, including those who are ill or disabled, the additional long distance travel could be extremely challenging.
3. Important questions on the impact of the closures on DWP staff remain unanswered.
The UK Government have yet to make clear how many staff will be affected and whether no compulsory redundancies will be guaranteed. And it’s still unclear what the impact will be on retained Job Centres or whether any additional resources will be allocated to support these offices.
4. It is absolutely unacceptable that the UK government has failed to consult with the Scottish Government on these closures, despite the clear impact this will have on the Scottish people.
While the Smith Commission called for increased joint-management from the Scottish Government over Job Centre Plus, the Employability Minister Jamie Hepburn has confirmed that they received no prior notification of the closures. Both Jamie Hepburn and Angela Constance, the Social Security Secretary, will meet with the UK government in January and will discuss the closures.
The SNP will yet again do the job of the UK government and assess how these proposals will affect people in Scotland and what the impact will be on newly devolved social security powers.
Any UK government consultation on these closures must cover all centres, not just the two the UK government intends to consult on, so that all views of people in Glasgow can be heard.