STUC disabled workers slam Jobcentre closures across Scotland

STUC disabled workers conference passes motion condemning the closure of jobcentres across Scotland 

THE STUC disabled workers conference has condemned the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) decision to close 27 jobcentres across Scotland.

The conference passed a motion noting the likely impact on disabled people “is twofold”, affecting both those who use the jobcentre for services, and those who work for the DWP.

Barbra Farmer from the Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) told the conference: “The DWP claims that the changes will save more than £140m a year for the next 10 years and will offer a better value for the taxpayer.

“Eighty per cent of jobseeker's allowance and 99 per cent of universal credit applications are now made online.

“If they are late for these meetings because they do not know the area then there is the potential for benefit sanctions, which push people further into poverty than they will already have been.” Barbra Farmer

“What about those people whose impairment means that they cannot use a computer to make their application online?

“Why should they be disaffected as they are expected to travel further from their house to make a claim for benefit?”

Last month, it was revealed that the UK Government would close 13 jobcentres across Scotland over the coming months.

It comes after the DWP revealed that one in 10 jobcentres across the UK would close this year, with a loss of 750 jobs.

“The [UK] government thinks that it is perfectly acceptable to disadvantage disabled people by making them travel across Glasgow to areas that they may not know to attend meetings.” Barbra Farmer

But, it has been revealed that a further 58 jobs will be lost, which includes one in five jobs in Glasgow alone.

Although, the DWP has said that a majority of staff will remain in their current offices, with others moving to another DWP site.

Farmer told the conference about seven jobcentres that are going to close in Glasgow, plus one in Port Glasgow and processing places in Coatbridge and Paisley. She said that many of the offices are in areas with “high unemployment and high deprivation”.

Farmer said: “The government thinks that it is perfectly acceptable to disadvantage disabled people by making them travel across Glasgow to areas that they may not know to attend meetings.

Read more – Tories slash Scottish job centres, hitting most vulnerable citizens

“if they are late for these meetings because they do not know the area then there is the potential for benefit sanctions, which push people further into poverty than they will already have been.”

Farmer added that the criteria used by the UK Government for claimants to travel to new jobcentres state that they must be “two to three miles or 20 minutes on public transport” from the old site to the new site.

Farmer said: “When this has been assessed, some of it has been done by using Google maps, meaning that some of the bus routes from the old jobcentres to the new sites no longer exist. ”

The conference called on the STUC disabled workers committee to raise awareness of the issue throughout the trade union and the disabled and equality movement about the “disproportionate impact” on disabled people.

Also, there are calls for the committee to encourage trade union councils to support campaigns against the closures and provide visible support at a public meeting against the plans.

Picture courtesy of YouTube

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