MP joins Kirk in slating move to axe Jobcentres

Glasgow South MP Stewart McDonald.
Glasgow South MP Stewart McDonald.

Glasgow South MP Stewart McDonald has joined the Church of Scotland in condemning the axeing of Langside and other Jobcentres.

The SNP man welcomed the UK Government’s climb-down on its aim to close Castlemilk Jobcentre, which followed a high profile campaign of opposition.

But he adds he’s “deeply sorry” he and other opponents of the cuts were unable to save Langside and five other threatened Glasgow Jobcentres.

Meanwhile the Kirk has slammed the decision as “a disgrace” and “something we should all be ashamed of”.

When the plans were first mooted last year Mr McDonald said the Department of Work and Pensions would be in breach of their own guidelines if the controversial closures went ahead.

These stipulate that an alternative must be within 15 minutes’ travelling distance by public transport and within three miles of the closed Jobcentre office.

And he attacked the plans as “another example of the callous disregard that Theresa May’s government has for Scotland”.

This week Mr McDonald said: “Now, more than ever, our Jobcentres need to remain open and local, but they must find a renewed purpose in supporting Glaswegians who need them most.”

He said that could be, for example, helping those who need to find meaningful work that pays a decent wage for a fair day’s work, or assisting disabled and vulnerable people access the social security and services that they are both entitled to, and deserve.”

Pauline Edmiston, vice-convener of the Kirk’s Church and Society Council, said the decision ignores the needs of jobseekers, especially those who lack computer skills or do not have access to getting online.

She said: “The decision to close six job centres in Glasgow will negatively impact some of the poorest people within our communities and is deeply regrettable.

“Ever since their announcement earlier this year there has been a consensus across the political parties that these were ill conceived, coming as they did with minimal consultation.

“While we welcome the decision by the Department for Work and Pensions to retain a presence in Castlemilk and Cambuslang, this does not go far enough.”

She added: “As a city Glasgow experiences some of the highest levels of digital exclusion in the UK.

“This means that those who are entitled to – and most need—help and support – will be the ones least able to access it as services move online.

“It also fails to consider concerns that many individuals in these communities have about accessing material online.

“At a time when food bank use is on the rise, when there is great need within our communities, this decision will undoubtedly make it harder for people to access the help they need.

“Decisions such as this highlight the lack of care, concern and understanding that our society has for some of those in greatest need, it is a disgrace and is something that we should all be ashamed of.