Employability Minister writes to UK Government.
Minister for Employability and Training Jamie Hepburn, has written to the UK Government expressing his deep concern over the closure of Jobcentre facilities.
On Thursday (26 January), the UK Government announced the closure of 15 Jobcentre sites in Scotland. This comes after it announced the proposed closure of eight Jobcentres in Glasgow in December.
In the letter, Mr Hepburn asked when a full timetable for planned changes will be in place, and called on the Department for Work and Pensions to work together with the Scottish Government for the benefit of those who use employment services.
He also called on the UK Government to confirm when it will hold regional consultations on the issue to hear from local communities, share plans around how any redundancies will be managed and clarify how remaining offices can absorb and accommodate the increased service demand.
Mr Hepburn said:
“I am alarmed that the UK Government is yet again ignoring the needs of people in Scotland.
“The closure of Jobcentre Plus offices will not only disproportionately affect Scotland’s people, but could push vulnerable Scots further into crisis. This makes it even more difficult for people to find employment and will lead to many more people having to travel further to visit a centre and engage with their work coach.
“I am also concerned that there has been a lack of consultation with the communities affected and about the level of information shared with us in advance. I have again written to the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions and asked for urgent clarification around fundamental issues, including how any redundancies will be managed, as well as seeking assurances that the remaining offices can support the increased demand being put upon them.
“This week’s announcement was once again made without any prior consultation with any local communities or the Scottish Government, repeating the pattern that we saw in December when the UK Government announced the closure of eight Jobcentres in Glasgow.
“As I made clear in my letter to the UK’s Employment Minister, the lack of consultation is unacceptable. It is against the principles of the Smith agreement, and I have called for greater communication in the future.
“As we move towards the launch of the Scottish Government's transitional employment services this year, we need to be in a position where UK and Scottish Government can work together to offer people support and work that aligns with Jobcentre Plus; not see the UK Government take services away and make them harder to access.”
Notes for editors:
In his letter, Mr Hepburn will seek answers to the following questions:
- What is your timetable for implementing these planned changes and potential closures?
- I note you intend to run local public consultations in some areas, commencing Monday 30th January. Can you please clarify: in which areas will these be run; for how long; how will the consultations be publicised; and that you will ensure that DWP officials continue to engage with each of the Jobcentres during the consultation process?
- Can you provide a robust rationale for not consulting on some areas?;
- When will the planned Equalities Impact Assessment begin, and what plans are there for sharing this with the Scottish Government?
- Your written statement to the House of Commons indicated that redundancies may be required. Can you please provide detail of how many staff in Scotland will be affected and what assurances can you provide for those staff?
- Can you please provide the analysis that shows those offices remaining open can absorb and accommodate the significantly increased service demand/footfall these changes will require and clarify whether these offices will provide continuity in support, and will they provide an improved service or enhanced performance? Can you also clarify what will the impact on staff be?
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