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Jeremy Corbyn attacks Government over ‘completely illogical’ welfare policies

The Labour leader was in Coatbridge in Scotland to help oppose plans to close jobcentres and benefits offices.

The UK Government is on a “completely illogical path” with its welfare policies, Jeremy Corbyn has told his supporters.

The Labour leader attacked plans to close jobcentres and benefits offices as he addressed a rally in Coatbridge, North Lanarkshire, in Scotland.

Trade union members are protesting against the shutdown of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) centre in the town, which could see 250 workers moved to Motherwell and Glasgow.

The Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union has raised concerns about the impact on the local economy. The shutdown is part of a wider plan to close processing sites and jobcentres across the UK.

Addressing crowds of union members and protesters outside a shopping centre, Mr Corbyn called for the closure programme to be halted.

He also criticised UK Government reforms to the benefits system – including the introduction of Universal Credit aimed at streamlining claimants’ payments – and the use of sanctions.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has his picture taken during a rally at Quadrant shopping centre (Jane Barlow/PA)

“There are those that would seek to divide those who work behind the counter or at a call centre in a jobcentre from those on the other side who need that help … The fact that we are all here together today in unity in opposing that closure and opposing those job losses shows the kind of world, the kind of society, that we want to live in.

“The Government is on some completely illogical path at the present time. They are bringing in universal credit with all the problems associated with that.

“Many people are losing out and getting less benefit as a result. They are imposing a sanctions regime which is often punitive on people going through difficulties.”

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn criticised Government benefit reforms (Jane Barlow/PA)

He continued: “I don’t blame those who work in the DWP, I blame those who made the rules and the regulations. I’m saying to the government: halt this closure programme, halt the closure of this centre here due to close in September.”

He added: “Instead, think again. Think again about the role of government in supporting people, think again about the punitive way in which you operate your regimes.”

Mr Corbyn, who was joined by local Labour MP Hugh Gaffney for the rally, was mobbed by supporters as he left to visit a steel plant in Cambuslang.

A spokesman for the DWP said: “The changes we are making to our estate across the country will offer a more efficient service and deliver good value for the taxpayer – saving over £140 million a year for the next 10 years. The way we are making these changes mean we expect less than 1% of DWP staff across the country will be unable to continue with us.

“As an example, staff in Coatbridge will be moving to other nearby sites in Motherwell and Glasgow. This will secure jobs and increase capacity in this area. Our site at Coatbridge is unsuitable for our future needs and would require significant investment to become the modern, digital working environment we want for our staff.”

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