MSP calls for staff axed by DWP to be 'redeployed' to Scots social security offices

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Labour MSP Katy Clark.
Labour MSP Katy Clark.

LABOUR MSP Katy Clark has criticised plans from Conservative ministers to close work and pensions offices in Scotland, as she called on the Scottish Government to step in and recruit at-risk staff if necessary.

In a Scottish Parliament motion condemning the closures, which will see two offices north of the Border permanently shut and a further six relocated, Ms Clark also challenged Tory MSPs to oppose the plans.

Ms Clark, who represents

West Scotland where offices at Clydebank and Greenock are set to close, has called on the Scottish Government to use its social security powers to intervene to protect jobs.

In her motion, she urged ministers to liaise with Social Security Scotland and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) with

a view to identify areas at-risk staff that could be hired.

She said: “These closures will not just affect hundreds of workers in Scotland but also the claimants they support and wider communities.

“The demonisation of benefit claimants, 40 per cent of whom

are already in work, has been a longstanding Conservative project, and the treatment of their own civil servants is no better.

“The first priority must be to stop these cuts, which are unnecessary and callous at a time when workers are under immense strain due to the cost-of-living crisis.

“But I believe the Scottish Government must do all it is

legally able to identify areas of redeployment for these workers so there are contingencies in place to support workers, particularly as Scotland now has a range of powers to provide social security support.

“The entire parliament – including Douglas Ross and the Scottish Conservatives, who claim to stand up for Scottish jobs – must condemn these closures.”

The closures are targeted to be completed by June next year.

Ms Clark’s draft motion to parliament “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 would affect 64 workers at Aberdeen and over 100 at Kirkcaldy, are processing sites where no alternative nearby premises have been identified for relocation of staff”. The motion goes on to say it understands a further six sites in Scotland will close with an alternative site for relocation offered, including in West Scotland region.

The UK Government has previously said: “This is not a plan to reduce our headcount. Where possible, our colleagues in offices due to close are being offered opportunities to be redeployed

to a nearby site, or retrained

into a new role in DWP or another government department.

“We are making every effort to fully support our staff through

this process.”

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