MSP for Aberdeenshire East, Gillian Martin, has written to the UK government’s Secretary of State for Work and Pensions urging him to rethink any potential closures to job centres in Aberdeenshire.
The move comes after it emerged last month that the DWP is planning massive cuts to job centres across the country, with half of the job centres in Glasgow earmarked for closure proving to be the “tip of the iceberg”.
The DWP has signalled that it intends to close 20% of the job centre estate across the country – which stands to have a deeply damaging impact on communities across Scotland, resulting in already hard-up people being forced to travel further at a higher cost in order to access vital job searching services.
Ms Martin has called on the UK government to rethink their ideologically-motivated closures of job centres across Scotland, and to develop an approach which better serves those that need support to find employment. She has also written to Scottish Tory counterparts across Aberdeenshire calling for their support in fighting the UK government’s callous cuts in our local communities.
Commenting she said: “Local job centres in Aberdeenshire provide a vital service to those looking for work. The DWP plan to close 20% of job centres across the country, but we’ve seen this figure hit 50% in Glasgow, and I fear that we could face similar cuts in the North East.
"As it stands there are zero job centres in Aberdeenshire East, with my constituents having to travel to Aberdeen, Peterhead, Fraserburgh, Banff or even to Buckie in Moray.
“Closing 20% of job centres could see our communities lose one of the five closest to my constituency of Aberdeenshire East – which is wholly unacceptable. The impact on communities in the north of my constituency such as Mintlaw, Strichen and New Pitsligo would be dramatic if any of the job centres on the coast were to close. If anything, the UK government should be considering adding job centres in towns such as Turriff, Inverurie and Ellon instead of cutting services which help job-seekers into work.
“I have written to the UK government’s Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Damian Green, seeking assurances over the future of job centres in Aberdeenshire after the deeply troubling news last month that 8 of Glasgow’s 16 job centres were marked for closure – and these closures seem to be the tip of the iceberg, with more harrowing cuts yet to be announced across the rest of the country.
“The closures are not acceptable in Glasgow and would not be acceptable here in Aberdeenshire, and I plan to do everything in my power, with support from the Scottish Government, to fight these cuts. I hope my Scottish Conservative counterparts join these efforts and take up the fight with their colleagues at Westminster rather than sitting back and letting their constituents suffer.
“When push comes to shove, will they stand up for their constituents and fight to stop the job centre closures, or will they simply go along with what their bosses at Westminster decree?
“The local services must be retained, and I urge the Tory government to rethink these wrongheaded closures and to ensure providing front line services to support people into work is their priority.”