They work for you

Rutherglen Reformer - - News From The Pews - ADAM TOMKINS Glas­gow MSP (Con)

I wel­comed the op­por­tu­nity in the Scot­tish Par­lia­ment last week to dis­cuss the fu­ture of the 16 Job­cen­tre Plus (JCP) of­fices across the Glas­gow re­gion, in­clud­ing the pro­posal to roll Cam­bus­lang’s job cen­tre into Ruther­glen’s.

I have a num­ber of con­cerns about these pro­pos­als.

First, process. DWP rules mean that only three of the eight pro­posed clo­sures in Glas­gow are sub­ject to con­sul­ta­tion. In my view, all eight pro­posed clo­sures should be put out to pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion, in­clud­ing the pro­posal to close Cam­bus­lang JCP and to merge its ser­vices with Ruther­glen.

The con­text in which the DWP’s pro­pos­als have come about does, how­ever, need to be un­der­stood.

First, use of Glas­gow’s job cen­tres has di­min­ished con­sid­er­ably in re­cent years, re­flect­ing the rise in em­ploy­ment and the fall in the num­ber of claimants. In­deed, the claimant count in the UK is now lower than it has been since the mid 1970s.

Since the Con­ser­va­tives came to power in 2010 the claimant count in Glas­gow has fallen by 44 per cent. This is ter­rific news—but it does mean that it is ra­tio­nal to keep our JCP pro­vi­sion un­der re­view.

Two months ago, the all-party House of Com­mons work and pen­sions com­mit­tee pro­duced a re­port recog­nis­ing this. The re­port was sup­ported by MPs from all par­ties, in­clud­ing the SNP’s Mhairi Black.

We have to recog­nise, too, that the work un­der­taken by job cen­tres is chang­ing. In­creas­ingly, em­ploy­ers are us­ing job cen­tres to re­cruit new staff. This is much eas­ier for JCPs to or­gan­ise in a smaller num­ber of larger “hubs” than it is in a larger num­ber of smaller JCP premises.

Across Glas­gow, some of our smaller job cen­tres are clearly un­der-used. An­nies­land JCP, for ex­am­ple, op­er­ates at the mo­ment at only one-third ca­pac­ity.

So there is clearly a case for re­view­ing JCP pro­vi­sion across the city. And it is im­por­tant to un­der­stand that what is un­der re­view is the num­ber of job cen­tre premises, not the range of ser­vices that job cen­tres per­form.

In­deed, DWP’s as­pi­ra­tion is that a re­duced num­ber of JCP premises will lead to an en­hanced level of ser­vice for those who rely on out-of-work ben­e­fits.

For the fu­ture, what I would like to see is more use of co-lo­ca­tion, plac­ing the DWP’s Job­cen­tre ser­vices in the same premises, for ex­am­ple, as the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment’s skills devel­op­ment ser­vices.

This re­quires the UK and Scot­tish Gov­ern­ments to work more closely to­gether, and this is what I will be press­ing both the SNP and the UK’s DWP min­is­ters to get on with.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.