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Wednesday, 07 December 2016

DWP slammed over decision to close half of Glasgow's job centres

Written by The Press Association

Half of the Jobcentre Plus offices in Glasgow are to close to save money, officials have said.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) says the move, which will see the closure of eight jobcentres, will also provide more efficient use of DWP premises.

DWP officials say Castlemilk and Langside centres will move to Newlands jobcentre; Parkhead, Easterhouse and Bridgeton will move to Shettleston jobcentre; Anniesland will move to Partick jobcentre; Maryhill will move to Springburn jobcentre and Cambuslang will move to Rutherglen jobcentre.

Glasgow currently has a total of 16 jobcentres but the move will reduce the number to eight.

The department says no jobs will be lost and Jobcentre Plus offices in Govan, Drumchapel and Laurieston will remain open.

The Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union, which represents social security workers in the DWP, described the plans as "short-sighted" .

PCS national officer Lynn Henderson said: "No-one should be in any doubt that these proposals will have a devastating impact on the worst socio-economic areas in the city of Glasgow.

"Our very clear view is that DWP needs to pause on these proposals and subject them to both Parliamentary and public scrutiny."

Chris Stephens MP, SNP spokesman for trade unions said: "This decision is simply morally outrageous.

"It will result in the poorest communities not being serviced by a jobcentre and make it even harder for those seeking employment to get support.

"Thousands of people will now have to travel further at additional cost to attend their appointments.

"These plans make Glasgow the guinea pig as I fear the closures announced will be used as a template for further closures across Scotland and the UK."

Denise Horsfall, DWP work services director for Scotland, said: "At the heart of everything we do is our customers and we've made it easier than ever for people to access our suite of specialist services to find work and get the support that they need, whether that be in person, online or over the phone.

"By bringing together a number of neighbouring jobcentres we're continuing to modernise our operations while ensuring that our premises provide best value to the taxpayer."

The proposals form part of the People and Locations programme which was announced in the autumn statement last year.

A final decision on the plans is expected to be made within six months, with a view to completion by March 31 2018.

A DWP spokeswoman said later: "It is simply nonsense to suggest Glasgow is a testing ground. The city is in a unique position within the Jobcentre Plus estate as it has a greater density of smaller offices compared to other large towns and cities in Scotland.

"After 20 years, the contract covering many of our buildings across the UK runs out in April 2018.

"This is a great opportunity to negotiate better deals for the taxpayer and by bringing together a number of neighbouring jobcentres, we're continuing to modernise our operations."

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