Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson must ‘break her silence’ on plans to close Jobcentres across Scotland, Kezia Dugdale said today.
Writing in the Daily Record, the Scottish Labour leader says that as Scotland faces a major jobs crisis in Scotland, the solution is not to cut off opportunities; it is to offer a helping hand to those who want to find work.
Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale writes:
With 139,000 Scots out of work, we should be doing everything we can to help people find a job.
So I was furious last week when the Tory government announced plans to close 16 Jobcentres across Scotland.
That comes on top of an announcement in December to shut eight of Glasgow’s Jobcentres.
This is a wrong-headed move by the Tories that risks hurting our economy and causing further hardship for families across Scotland.
A cross-party campaign has sprung up to save the Glasgow Jobcentres, with Labour MSPs and councillors working hand-in-hand with SNP MPs, MSPs and councillors to fight the Conservatives’ plan.
That battle now extends right across the entire country.
One of the largest Jobcentre’s under threat is the heart of our capital city, on Edinburgh’s South St Andrew Street. The local MSP is Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson.
Ruth does not shy away from criticising her party colleagues in Westminster if she thinks it can win her more votes in Scotland.
So it is time for her to break her silence: does she agree with me that these Tory cuts will cause hardship for people in Edinburgh who are desperate to find a job; or -; like Theresa May – does she just not care?
The UK government should be making it easier to get into the jobs market, not harder. Closing these centres would be completely counter-productive and see more of our most vulnerable slip through the social security safety net.
At a time when the Tories are cutting social security and introducing sanctions for low-paid workers, it’s reckless at best and perverse at worst for the Government to close so many Jobcentres.
The Tories used to tell people to get on their bike to find work. Well, this move won’t make it any easier to help anyone else into work and these closures are focused on some of the most deprived communities in Scotland – forcing extra travel costs on some of our poorest.
The Conservatives are justifying the closures of half the job centres in Glasgow on the fact that the claimant count has fallen sharply between December 2010 and December 2016.
For the entire country, the number of Scots claiming JobSeeker’s Allowance is down 41 per cent.
That is, of course, encouraging news. But the Tories are putting disgraceful political spin on this in an attempt to justify these callous cuts.
In 2010 the country was only starting to emerge from the worst recession since the Second World War, so unemployment was still incredibly high. Comparing the number of claimants today with the total for 2007, however -; before the recession firmly took hold -; shows that the figure is actually up 14 per cent.
We still face a major jobless crisis in Scotland. The solution is not to cut off opportunities; it is to offer a helping hand to those who want to find work.
The Tories must think again.