Mon 20 Feb, 2017

The minister should at least have the decency to visit the communities where his closures will have the biggest impact but instead he hides. Ross Greer MSP

It has been revealed in a letter to a Green MSP, that the UK government minister behind the announced closures of up to 23 Jobcentre Plus sites across Scotland, has refused to visit Greater Glasgow, the area set to lose the majority of the offices.

Green MSP, Ross Greer, invited the Minister of State for the Department of Work and Pensions, Damian Hinds MP to walk from the soon-to-be closed Alexandria job centre to the nearest alternative in Dumbarton - a one hour walk, with the route going through a field.

In his reply, Mr Hinds said:

“I appreciate your offer to visit West Scotland. Unfortunately, as you may be aware, I visited Scotland recently and will be unable to do so again in the near future due [sic] parliamentary and other diary commitments”.

West of Scotland MSP, Ross Greer said:

“Some of the proposed closures here in the West of Scotland and throughout the country are truly shocking. The implications have surely not been considered – the alternative is that the Westminster government knows the consequences and simply does not care.

“The closure of the Alexandria jobcentre will mean that the most direct route to the nearest jobcentre in Dumbarton is an hour’s walk either way. For many jobseekers public transport is either too expensive on unreliable and puts them at risk of sanctions for failing to attend or being late. The hour long walk certainly isn’t an alternative for anyone with young kids, a disability or health condition though.

“What the Tories have created is a system designed to block access to the support people are entitled to and one which makes their lives harder when they are most in need of support. The minister should at least have the decency to visit the communities where his closures will have the biggest impact but instead he hides. Given that his last visit was to Musselburgh it’s simply insulting to those in Glasgow and the West to say that was enough.

“You do not need to watch Ken Loach’s new film – I, Daniel Blake – to know the brutality of the UK social security system. Though I do suggest that Mr Hinds watches what is a devastatingly realistic story of life stuck in a brutal system of his party’s creation.”

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