I’ll lead de­bate over the clo­sure of cen­tres

Rutherglen Reformer - - News From The Pews -

The fight to save Cam­bus­lang Jobcen­tre, and seven other job cen­tres in the Glas­gow area, con­tin­ues.

I have man­aged to se­cure a 90 minute de­bate at West­min­ster next Wed­nes­day on the fu­ture of the DWP es­tate, which will pro­vide a vi­tal op­por­tu­nity for MPs to hold the gov­ern­ment to ac­count over their plans.

Castlemilk’s Mem­ber of Par­lia­ment Ste­wart McDon­ald led a sim­i­lar de­bate just be­fore Christ­mas, which I was proud to speak in, de­fend­ing Cam­bus­lang’s Jobcen­tre from the planned clo­sure.

Dur­ing the de­bate, I men­tioned how the job cen­tre is my neigh­bour — it is less than a minute’s walk from my of­fice, and that on a daily ba­sis, my team and I see how busy the job cen­tre can be and how peo­ple rely on its ser­vices.

Peo­ple are re­quired to ac­tively look for work each day, with most of it done on com­put­ers.

Some con­stituents have trou­ble with that and rely on as­sis­tance from job cen­tre staff.

The Half­way area – which I have been proud to call home for al­most two decades - will be hit par­tic­u­larly hard.

It takes about 30 min­utes for a fit per­son to walk from Half­way to Cam­bus­lang job cen­tre.

Once it closes, the round trip to Ruther­glen job cen­tre would in­volve walk­ing for two and a half hours.

Although Ste­wart’s de­bate specif­i­cally fo­cussed on Glas­gow’s job cen­tres; mine will look at the fu­ture of the DWP es­tate right across the UK.

It is clear that Glas­gow is be­ing used as the test­ing ground for more dev­as­tat­ing cuts across the coun­try, and I hope to see MPs from across the UK, and dif­fer­ent par­ties, in at­ten­dance.

My­self, Clare Haughey MSP, and a num­ber of other MPs and MSPs have also jointly launched an on­line pe­ti­tion call­ing on the min­is­ter of state for em­ploy­ment to stop the cuts.

It is an un­de­ni­able fact that the clo­sures will make it even harder for those seek­ing em­ploy­ment to get sup­port.

Thou­sands of peo­ple will have to travel fur­ther at ad­di­tional cost to at­tend their ap­point­ments and run a greater risk of fall­ing foul of the UK Gov­ern­ment’s sanc­tions regime.

This de­ci­sion will also im­pact Scot­tish work­ers who will be forced to re­lo­cate to other job cen­tres.

The UK Gov­ern­ment had pre­vi­ously an­nounced plans to close 20 per cent of Job­cen­tres but Glas­gow has now been hand­picked to take a dis­pro­por­tion­ate 50 per cent cut to its es­tate

It is galling that the UK Gov­ern­ment has brought for­ward th­ese pro­pos­als with­out car­ry­ing out an equal­ity im­pact as­sess­ment and with­out con­sult­ing the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment.

I would en­cour­age all of you, re­gard­less of your po­lit­i­cal per­sua­sions, to get be­hind this cam­paign by sign­ing the pe­ti­tion and telling the DWP that they can­not sim­ply bull­doze through with their plans.

The on­line pe­ti­tion is avail­able at htt p://bit.l y/J obc en­trePe­ti­tion

I will also be out on the streets of Cam­bus­lang and Half­way col­lect­ing sig­na­tures this week­end with lo­cal MSP Clare Haughey.

Please do stop and sign the pe­ti­tion.

My de­bate takes place on Wed­nes­day, Jan­uary 18 at 2.30pm, and will be streamed on­line at par­lia­mentlive.tv

De­bate Mar­garet Fer­rier MP (sec­ond right) with fel­low Glas­gow MPs and MSPs are op­posed to the clo­sure of Cam­bus­lang Jobcen­tre

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