Future of Scottish sites to be discussed.
Proposed Jobcentre Plus closures could increase the risk of sanctions and put pressure on people who are already facing stressful circumstances, Employability Minister Jamie Hepburn has said.
Mr Hepburn will again raise Scottish Government concerns over the proposals with the UK Government’s Minister of State for Employment Damian Hinds in London today.
It follows a recent debate where the Scottish Parliament voted by an overwhelmingly majority to halt the closures of 23 Jobcentre Plus sites in Scotland until further consultation has taken place with the communities affected.
Mr Hepburn will call for more detail on the outcome of the consultation, plans for co-location and ask for a reassurance that the needs of those who access Jobcentre Plus services will not be ignored. He said:
“Through my meetings with the people and organisations who most rely on Jobcentre Plus it’s clear that there is a fear that closures will increase the risk of sanctions and put more stress on some of the most vulnerable people in our society.
“The Scottish Parliament has united in its opposition to proposed closures and has voiced its concerns on the impact it will have on single parent families and people with health conditions and disabilities.
“At today’s meeting I will urge the UK Government to visit the communities and people affected by these closures in order to truly understand their concerns.
“We need clarity on the timetable for consultation and closures, and for UK Government Ministers to honour the principles of the Smith Agreement, and not take services away and make them harder to access.”
This is the Minister’s second meeting with Mr Hinds on the Jobcentre Plus closures.
Later in the day Mr Hepburn will take part in a meeting of the Joint Ministerial Working Group on Welfare with Cabinet Secretary for Communities, Social Security and Equalities Angela Constance and Minister for Social Security Jeane Freeman from the Scottish Government and Scottish Secretary David Mundell with Damian Hinds, Minister for Employment, representing the Department for Work and Pensions.
List of proposed Jobcentre Plus closures are available here.