Fife MP brands DWP ‘despicable’ as staff left in limbo after closure of major Fife office

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The closure of one of the biggest offices in Kirkcaldy has left staff uncertain over the future, unions and MPs claim.

The Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) has said it will shut its office on Victoria Road as part of a move to modernise its services.

It is one of 41 closures across the UK, but, after a six week consultation period, unions say up to 100 staff have yet to be offered places at other offices.

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And if even if they are, it could mean working in Edinburgh, Dundee or Falkirk.

DWP office in Victoria Road, KirkcaldyDWP office in Victoria Road, Kirkcaldy
DWP office in Victoria Road, Kirkcaldy

Their case has been taken up by two Fife MPS - Neale Hanvey and Peter Grant.

Mr Hanvey described the DWP’s conduct as “despicable.”

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The Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) union says up to 100 staff remain in limbo, despite DWP assurances they would either be redeployed to other offices or retrained into new roles.

Peter Grant MP with union officials at the demoPeter Grant MP with union officials at the demo
Peter Grant MP with union officials at the demo

The DWP said “every effort” was being made to support them, but it has come under criticism from two MPs.

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Mr Hanvey, NP for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath, has spoken with local union officials, and attended a recent union rally highlight the UK-wide changes outside Westminster, also attended by Mr Grant.

He said: “Constituents who have contacted me have spoken of their frustration and anger at this move.

“They rightly feel it is a complete betrayal of the many promises made to retain such jobs in Scotland in 2014 and even more recent assurances that when the centre closed they would be redeployed as a team. This was not true.

“They are now facing redundancy and it is completely unacceptable.”And he added: “What hope does anyone have during this dreadful cost-of-living crisis when the DWP are prepared to treat their own staff in such despicable way.”

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He urged workers left in limbo to get in touch with his office “so I can hear their views and act directly on their behalf to challenge this decision by the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions.”

Peter Grant, MP for Glenrothes has also written to Mim Davies, Minister for Employment, about the impact on staff and local services.

He Grant said, “I am dismayed to learn that of the 13 sites to be closed with no relocation plans, one of these is Kirkcaldy which is in the constituency neighbouring mine, where 101 people will be impacted, several of whom are my constituents.

“I have asked the Minister to advise what these 101 people who will be impacted are currently working on and what their options will be for future employment with the DWP in the local area.”

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He added: “When we are experiencing a national cost of living crisis the services of the DWP need to be invested in, not drained of experience and resources.

“Many folk affected will have caring duties or disabilities which mean travelling further is an added burden or simply can’t afford the extra travel. I am keenly awaiting a response from the Minister.”

The DWP has not given any indication what plans it has for the future of the sprawling complex on Victoria Road.