- 22 December 2016
DWP hints that closures could be tip of the iceberg
Maryhill and Springburn MSP Bob Doris has called for an urgent halt to the DWP’s ideologically-driven closure of Job Centres across Glasgow.
The Tory plans to scrap half of existing services – relied upon by a huge number of people for vital welfare support – have come up against overwhelming opposition from local representatives.
Answering a parliamentary question from Mr Doris, the Scottish Government Minister for Employability and Training Jamie Hepburn has warned that the consultation on the proposed Glasgow closures could just be the tip of the iceberg – with the potential for further rationalisation of services affecting other areas across Scotland.
The Minister further indicated his intention to raise the matter directly with Westminster colleagues at high level ministerial talks scheduled to take place in the New Year.
Commenting on these developments, Bob Doris MSP said: “It’s encouraging to see the swift action that the Scottish Government has taken in relaying the strength of local feeling against these proposed closures – closures which are entirely unreasonable in both their scale and potential impact.
“I’m glad to hear that Jamie Hepburn will be raising these matters directly with Tory ministers when they meet in January.
“But even more disturbing are the revelations that Job Centre closures in Glasgow might just be the tip of the iceberg – with the Tories harbouring plans for wholesale cuts to services across Scotland. Such a move would be positively Thatcherite, and the UK government have a duty to the people who rely on welfare support to make their intentions clear. Any public consultation must be conducted thoroughly and in a transparent manner.
“It’s still not too late for the DWP to sort out their priorities. They should be working to build a better, more effective welfare system that puts human beings first instead of inflicting more and more cuts which have a disproportionate impact on the most vulnerable people in our communities."
Written Parliamentary Question from Bob Doris MSP –
Bob Doris (Glasgow Maryhill and Sprinburn) (Scottish National Party): To ask the Scottish Government, in light of the potential impact on vulnerable people, what representations it has made to the UK Government regarding its proposals to close Jobcentre Plus offices in Glasgow. S5W-05578
Jamie Hepburn: Given the level of concern I have about this matter, I have now written to Damian Green, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions on two occasions: once on 7 December when the announcement was made public and then again on 9 December seeking clarification of DWP’s consultation and proposals within its estates review. Mr Green replied on 8 December setting out the UKG’s rationale for a proposed rationalisation of the Jobcentre Plus estate based on both cost and operational effectiveness. The consultation on the proposed Glasgow closures closes on 31 January, and I will engage directly with Damian Green again on this matter. As we believe that this announcement on Glasgow is likely to be an initial element of a much wider process which could impact in areas across Scotland, I have asked that it is discussed when I next meet DWP Ministers at the next Joint Ministerial Working Group on Welfare on 30 January 2017.