Monday, 10 July 2017

Secretary of State for Scotland asked to advocate for vulnerable Scots affected by Jobcentre Plus closures

Govan Law Centre (GLC) has written to the Secretary of State for Scotland, Rt Hon David Mundell MP, expressing concern over the impact that the closure of ten Jobcentre Plus offices will have for vulnerable Scots. Six of the offices to be closed are in Glasgow.

GLC has called upon the Secretary of State for Scotland to ask the Prime Minister to reconsider this decision, which failing for Mr Mundell to advocate for a robust  strategy to mitigate the impact of this decision.  In our view that means revising the Claimant Commitment so those people affected are not subjected to unfair and unethical benefit sanctions, and to place Universal Credit on hold in affected areas. The text of the letter is set out in full below.

UPDATE (31 July 2017) - written response from the Scotland Office, dated 31 July 2017.

Rt Hon David Mundell MP,
Secretary of State for Scotland
Dear Mr Mundell  
Impact from the closure of Jobcentre Plus offices in Scotland

I am writing to you on behalf of Govan Law Centre (GLC) following the DWP’s decision to close six Jobcentre Plus offices in Glasgow. The offices to be closed are Langside, Parkhead, Easterhouse, Bridgeton, Anniesland and Maryhill.  
Our concerns apply equally to those other parts of Scotland losing Jobcentre Plus offices: Port Glasgow, Broxburn, Alexandria and Edinburgh. 

We are deeply concerned that this decision will act as a barrier to vulnerable people in Scotland accessing the social security system. The consequence of this will be an increase in homelessness, mental illness and other health problems, poverty, and human misery in Scotland.

As Secretary of State for Scotland we would ask if you would be willing to make representations to the Prime Minister to reconsider this decision – even at this late stage – which failing to advocate for the introduction a robust strategy to mitigate the prejudicial impact of this decision.

For example, in the localities where Jobcentre Plus offices will be closed it will be necessary to revise the ‘Claimant Commitment’, otherwise claimants will be subject to unfair, unethical and punitive sanctions to social security benefits.  Sanctions which may be impossible to avoid due to the cost and additional travel time following new geographical considerations.

Likewise, it will not be feasible to apply for online Universal Credit as there will be no access to computers in those Jobcentre Plus offices which are closed. People cannot simply use library facilities as they are not confidential, are already in use for many other purposes, and are not designed for this specific function. Universal Credit should be put on hold in these localities.

I look forward to your response at your earliest convenience.

Your sincerely

Mike Dailly
Solicitor Advocate
& Principal Solicitor


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