Housing associations plead to keep Glasgow job centre open

Lynn Wassell
Lynn Wassell

Three major Glasgow housing associations have called for a change of heart after plans were announced to close Maryhill Job Centre.

Proposals unveiled by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) will see the centre’s operations moved to the Springburn Job Centre, leaving parts of north west Glasgow with no essential DWP services.

Now Maryhill Housing, Queens Cross Housing Association and ng homes, which between them serve thousands of households in the area, have called for the decision to be reviewed.

The social housing providers said communities in the north west of Glasgow include areas of high deprivation and were dismayed that such an essential local service was facing the axe.

The decision to close the job centre comes just months after the three associations built on their strong track record in fighting unemployment by teaming up to launch an anti-poverty charter to tackle the challenges of poverty across north west Glasgow.

The Charter to Challenge Poverty was launched in direct response to SIMD (Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation) figures released on August 31 this year which show that the associations’ areas are home to many of the country’s most deprived households with significant numbers in the top 5 per cent.

As a result there are deep concerns about the devastating impact that the closure will have on local people, potentially increasing the problems they have in accessing job centre services and the very real likelihood of being sanctioned.

Lynn Wassell, chief executive of Maryhill Housing, said: “All our tenants who wish to engage with the Department of Work and Pensions now face more costs they can ill afford and another unnecessary barrier to finding work. Despite DWP guidelines advising that customers should have a Job Centre within 3 miles or 20 minutes by public transport, tenants and owners will now have to either travel for far longer than this. As always Maryhill HA will assist tenants to mitigate the issues they face the best we can but we know this closure would have a profound effect.”

Shona Stephen, chief executive of Queens Cross HA, said: “The local Job Centre shutting so soon, after the closure of the local housing benefit office, is only going to increase the burden on tenants already struggling with a lack of local services. It’s not always easy or practical for tenants to access services outwith their local area.

“The lack of local essential services is becoming the norm with local housing organisations expected to plug the gap and assist those in need. In this case there is a very real likelihood of peole being placed under further financial stress, leading to an increase in those being sanctioned by the DWP.”

Robert Tamburrini, chief executive of ng homes, added: “Recently, in both Maryhill and Possil, banking facilities were withdrawn when the Royal Bank of Scotland closed local branches. This proposed relocation by DWP further reduces services for those that need it most, are most likely to be affected adversely and least likely to be able to mitigate the effects. DWP needs to consider the effect on already struggling local communities.”

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