Kirk criticises decision to close job centres in Scotland

The Church of Scotland has reacted with dismay to the UK Government’s decision to close job centres in Scotland, including six in Glasgow.

A Job Centre

For some of those affected, the plans could add an additional six miles onto the journey to sign-on and an additional one and a half hours to get there and back by bus.

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.

Ms Edmiston, who heads up a team of community workers supporting faith groups to undertake anti-poverty work in Glasgow noted that the plan has been opposed by the Scottish Affairs Committee in Westminster, who criticised it for lack of consultation with the Scottish Government. 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.

“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 foodbank 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.”