Faith in Community Scotland joined Single Parent Families Scotland, The Citizens’ Advice Bureau, The Poverty Alliance, The Church of Scotland’s Church and Society Council, and many more organisations, in roundly condemning not only plans to close 8 job centres in Glasgow, but the decision to consult on the closure of just three of those jobcentres; Bridgeton, Castlemilk and Maryhill. DWP Staff have given no indication as to the outcome of the consultation, but as per consultation principles they must respond before the 25th of April, or provide an explanation as to why they have been unable to.
The DWP’s proposed plans to close 50% of Glasgow’s Job Centres were met with fierce resistance earlier this year, and members of FiCS Transformation Team worked closely with communities affected by the cuts to ensure their voices would be heard in the consultation.
Many people were concerned that the increased travel time and the unreliability of public transport would lead to them being sanctioned, whilst others were concerned about accessibility, increased costs and the impact this will have on their caring responsibilities.
With the rollout of Universal Credit it is estimated that demand on Jobcentres is likely to increase, and as many as 20,000 people in Glasgow may need to access their Jobcentre in the next few years. Job Centre staff are also concerned about the cuts, with a PCS Union representative telling the Scottish Affairs Committee that the extra travel will lead to more sanctions, and that the closures come now because contracts end in 2018, saying “That is the rationale behind it, but you can’t play games with people’s lives depending on contracts.”
Pauline from Transformation Team said “When the announcement comes it will have a big impact, not only on Glasgow. Refusal to see sense on this issue will be a pretty strong indicator that the government is committed to continuing its plans that will see the closure of 23 sites across Scotland.”
Whatever the outcome The Transformation Team will continue to make sure that the voices of local people are heard in the ongoing debate.