A LEADING Kirk figure has condemned “unacceptable” plans to close up to half of Glasgow’s 16 Jobcentres claiming that government cost-cutting should not involve “punishing the poorest in our society even more”.
Pauline Edmiston, vice convener of the Church and Society Council, said the move to slash the number of employment centres – which would incur no loss of staff but could see claimants travelling further than four miles or 40 minutes – would be resisted strongly by the Church.
The Kirk, along with colleagues from the Poverty Truth Commission and a range of other organisations, will write to Damien Green, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, asking him to abandon the plans.
They will also invite him to Glasgow to meet some of those who could be most directly affected if the proposals were to go ahead.
A number of the churches serving some of Scotland’s poorest communities have already agreed to campaign together to seek to influence the decision.
Ms Edmiston, who heads up a team of community workers supporting faith groups to undertake anti-poverty work in Glasgow, said: “Virtually every day we come across people who are looking for work but who are being badly treated by the Department for Work and Pensions.
“People, for example, who lose their benefits because they are a few minutes late for an appointment.
“Or others who are constantly anxious about doing something wrong and who are, as a result, less likely to have the confidence required to find work.
“These proposals will only make things harder."
Among the eight Jobcentres under threat of closure in the Glasgow area are those in Castlemilk, Bridgeton, Easterhouse and Maryhill.
For some of those affected, the plans could add an additional six miles onto the journey to sign-on and an additional one and a half hours to get there and back by bus.