- 14 December 2016
Call for halt to closures which will harm vulnerable people
SNP MSP Bob Doris has called for the DWP to halt its planned closures of 8 job centres in Glasgow – arguing that going through with the cuts would be deeply harmful to already hard pressed families in his constituency.
Mr Doris raised the concerns at Portfolio Questions at Holyrood this afternoon, noting that such changes would mean claimants travelling further to attend a job centre and slamming the DWP’s suggestion that this would act as an “incentive” into work.
Under the DWP’s proposals, half of the job centres in Glasgow could close. Maryhill and Springburn MSP Bob Doris and SNP Employability Minister Jamie Hepburn have called for a fundamental rethink of the proposals.
Commenting, Bob Doris MSP said: “Closing half of Glasgow’s job centres would be a completely regressive move, putting increased strain on already hard-up families in some of our poorest communities.
“The Tories have already cut the amount of money that those out of work or unable to work are entitled to – and they are now intent on forcing people to travel further to claim what benefits they remain entitled to.
“This toxic Tory government continually talk about the need to get people into work in order to help them out of poverty, yet they are pursuing policies which will limit people’s ability to find jobs. Their motivation is ideological, nothing more, nothing less.
“The DWP must halt these obscene proposals and rethink their plans in order to better serve those people in Glasgow who rely on the vital service that these job centres provide.
Bob Doris asked the Scottish Government: “On that specific matter, Minister, I met with the PCS union on Monday along with MP colleagues. They tell me they are particularly worried about the future for ESA claimants at job centres, if those 8 job centres do indeed close, including in my constituency in Glasgow Maryhill and Springburn, the job centre on Maryhill Road. The DWP told the PCS, crazily, that forcing vulnerable constituents with mobility issues to travel longer distances, will be an incentive into work. Just crazy. Can I ask the Minister whether the Scottish Government will support calls that have been made to halt this process and to have a fundamental rethink by the DWP?
Minister Jamie Hepburn said: “Let me say that, I know this is an important issue to Bob Doris given his constituency interest and all that have interests to all Glasgow representatives, that we have been able to make contact with Damien Green, the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, and we have been keeping MPs and MSPs that represent Glasgow up to date with that correspondence. In terms of the point that Bob Doris made about these changes acting as an ‘incentive’ for people into work, I think that tells us more about the DWP’s attitude to human beings than it does anything else. I would absolutely agree with Bob Doris’s point about the impact on those service users, and PCS union discuss that. Also, another point in terms of the Scottish Government’s position here, Presiding Officer, the Smith Commission spoke of increased joint-management from the Scottish Government over job centre plus, and in this matter, we had no prior notification, no meeting, no letter, no call, no email on this matter, so I’ll be meeting with Damien Green at the joint ministerial jobs and welfare in January along with Angela Constance, and this will certainly be a matter I’ll be raising.”