LABOR MSP Katy Clark has criticized plans by Conservative ministers to close employment and pension offices in Scotlandwhen she called on the Scottish Government to step in and recruit vulnerable staff if necessary.
In a Scottish parliamentary motion condemning the closures, which will see two offices north of the border permanently closed and another six moved, Mrs Clark also challenged Tory MSPs to oppose the plans.
Ms Clark representing
Western Scotland, where offices in Clydebank and Greenock are due to close, has called on the Scottish Government to use its social powers to intervene to protect jobs.
In her proposal, she called on ministers to contact Social Security Scotland and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) with
in order to identify areas at risk of staff being recruited.
She said: “These closures will not only affect hundreds of workers in Scotland but also the plaintiffs they support and wider communities.
“The demonization of unemployment benefit recipients, of which 40 per cent
already in work, has been a long-term conservative project, and the treatment of their own officials is no better.
“The first priority must be to stop these cuts, which are unnecessary and tedious at a time when workers are under enormous pressure due to the cost-of-living crisis.
“But I think the Scottish Government must do everything it can
legally able to identify areas for relocation for these workers so that preparedness is in place to support workers, especially as Scotland now has a number of powers to provide social security support.
“The whole House – including Douglas Ross and the Scottish Conservatives, who claim to stand up for Scottish jobs – must condemn these closures.”
The closures are expected to be completed in June next year.
Ms Clark’s draft parliamentary proposal “notes with concern the UK Government’s announcement that the Department for Work and Pensions plans to close 41 offices across the UK by June 2023”.
It adds that it “understands 13 of these closures, which will affect 64 workers in Aberdeen and over 100 in Kirkcaldy, are treatment sites where no alternative premises have been identified nearby for relocating staff”. The proposal goes on to say that it understands that a further six sites in Scotland will close with an alternative place of relocation being offered, including in the West Scotland region.
The UK government has previously said: “This is not a plan to reduce our number of employees. Where possible, our colleagues in offices are being offered opportunities to be relocated due to closure
to a nearby place or retrain
into a new role in DWP or another government department.
“We do everything we can to fully support our employees
this process. ”