GLASGOW MPs have criticised the UK Government for “butchering” Glasgow’s jobcentre network stating it has “come back to bite them”.

Chris Stephens Glasgow South West SNP MP said Glasgow is owed an apology and David Linden, SNP MP for Glasgow East, said as coronavirus hits the economy and jobs are lost that ­decision has come back to bite the government.

The Glasgow Times reported yesterday how the UK Government plans to double the number of jobcentre staff by 13,500 to cope with the massive coronavirus-related unemployment slump.

Neil Couling, DWP Universal Credit director-general, admitted to Mr Stephens, at the Westminster work and pensions committee, reopening old job centres to

house new staff may be “a possibility”.

Mr Stephens said: “We now know that the closure of job centres in Glasgow and elsewhere was wrong then, and has been proven to be wrong now.

“This was an institutional failure by DWP, despite warnings by Glasgow MPs, trade unions and charities. Glasgow was disproportionately affected, by the decision to close half of the job centre network in the city. The decision to close job centres was always going to impact on services especially during an economic downturn. The DWP should now apologise to people of Glasgow.”

Mr Linden said: “At the time, myself and colleagues warned the UK Government that this was a short-sighted move and would inevitably come back to bite them. And I think that’s exactly what’s happened.

“We see there is inevitably going to be an increase in unemployment as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and the UK Government then said it is going to double the number of jobcentre staff. What we are seeing is the chickens coming home to roost.

Mr Linden said there is “no doubt” the closure of job centres in Glasgow has had a “catastrophic effect”. He said that will be seen in the coming weeks and months as more people are made redundant as furlough starts to wind down.

He said: “If you essentially butcher the jobcentre network, which is what the UK Government did last year, then that does mean that the job centre network is not in a position to provide that local response that perhaps it would have done if it had more local jobcentres on the ground.

“There is no doubt in my mind that the jobcentre network would have properly been better set up to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic if we had had more jobcentres in the East End of Glasgow, which is the very

point I made to the UK ­Government.

Paul Sweeney, former Glasgow North East Labour MP, said: “Jobcentre closures always were counterproductive, but the scale of unemployment caused by this crisis renders that dreary model of jobcentres and UC inadequate. There should be a minimum income for all, and friendly support centres geared up for all types of unemployed workers.

A DWP spokesman said: “On top of the £1000 Job Retention Bonus, support for apprenticeships and a £2billion Kickstart scheme to subsidise jobs for young people, we’re recruiting 13,500 extra work coaches and rapidly adapting our estate to ­accommodate them.

“Previous estates decisions reflected the situation at the time – record low unemployment and more people accessing their benefits online – and couldn’t possibly have foreseen the current global emergency nor the measures required to maintain safety on sites.”