Angus politicians reassured that job centres won’t close

Angus North and Mearns MSP Mairi Evans, Angus South MSP Graeme Dey and Angus MP Mike Weir

Angus North and Mearns MSP Mairi Evans, Angus South MSP Graeme Dey and Angus MP Mike Weir

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The future of Angus job centres have been assured by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) during a meeting with three local politicians.

Angus MP Mike Weir and MSPs Graeme Dey and Mairi Evans – who represent Angus South and Angus North and Mearns respectively – held talks with the DWP regional representatives last week.

And while 14 of 97 Job Centre Plus sites in Scotland are ear-marked for closure, there will be no impact on branches in Arbroath, Forfar or Montrose.

The DWP is also looking into ways to make it easier for residents in Brechin to access the Job Centre – with their current nearest branch in Montrose.

Ms Evans said: “It was good to have a reassurance that none of the Job Centres in Angus were under threat, despite current closures elsewhere.

“Indeed they indicated that they were looking at the possibility of outreach provision to tackle the problem of people from Brechin having to go to Montrose.”

Universal Credit is also due to be rolled out in Angus later this year and with Personal Independence Payment (PIP) replacing Disability Living Allowance (DLA), the SNP members are keen to try and help ensure a smooth transition for their constituents.

The Scottish Government will have new powers – from April 1 – to top up reserved benefits such as Universal Credit, Child Benefit and Tax Credits – but the initial award of these remain reserved to Westminister.

Mr Weir said: “Full universal credit is gradually being rolled out across the UK and in some areas this has led to problems especially with rent arrears.

“We were keen to flag these up and ensure that every effort is taken to avoid these problems arising when it is rolled out in Angus later this year.”

Mr Dey added: “With some benefits being transferred to the Scottish Parliament it is important that there is a seamless system to deal with these - especially within universal credit - for which Westminster remains in control.”

Mr Weir, Ms Evans and Mr Dey will meet again with DWP representatives prior to the roll-out of Universal Credit later this year.