Falkirk East’s MSP has blasted a government “omnishambles” that led to the council being told Grangemouth Jobcentre was set for closure.
In fact the information was wrong, the facility is safe. and Angus MacDonald MSP has received a full apology for the blunder from the Department of Work and Pensions.
News that Grangemouth’s Jobcentre was supposedly one of those set to shut sparked widespread concern, both in the immediate area and in Bo’ness.
People there faced a hike to the Falkirk Jobcentre (not specifically threatened, but now confirmed as safe from closure), as their own Jobcentre had already been lost.
But Mr MacDonald says he’s dismayed at the worry the false information about the Grangemouth centre has caused.
He said: “Clearly confirmation from the UK Government that Grangemouth JobCentre is to remain open is welcome news and will give a sense of relief to the communities reliant on these services.
“However, the complete omnishambles that we have witnessed in the last few hours would suggest that the DWP is in a far worse state of confusion than they would like to admit.”
He says the blunder came to light when he sought clarification of information given to Falkirk Council that the Grangemouth centre was to close - and which was then passed on to councillors in good faith.
“First I received a phone call from the Department of Work and Pensions, and a profuse apology, followed by an email”, said Mr MacDonald.
Martyn Day MP is also obviously concerned, he said, as many of his constituents would have been affected.
The email to Mr MacDonald from the private secretary to Damian Hinds MP, Minister for Employment, reads as follows:-
“I can confirm that Grangemouth Jobcentre is going to remain open – we informed staff of this at 10am yesterday morning.
“We have published a full list of sites, including those we are retaining, as part of the Minister for Employment’s written ministerial statement yesterday. I have attached a copy to this email.
“We didn’t write to Martyn Day or Angus Macdonald as there has been no change.
I have apologised to Angus on the phone but please also pass on my apologies on to Martyn – I am not sure exactly how this mix up occurred but I will make sure Falkirk council are also contacted today to correct our mistake.”
Earlier this week Mr MacDonald told Falkirk Herald he was alarmed to learn of the DWP’s UK wide proposals for reducing office space to cut costs.
It aims to shut 134 job centres in total across the UK and a number of what the DWP refer to as “back offices”.
Mr MacDonald said the Grangemouth Jobcentre was vital to his constituents seeking work, as it was the only one in the area.
The DWP has confirmed to the Falkirk Herald that both Grangemouth and Falkirk Jobcentres are to stay open.