Jobs under threat as West Lothian bank and Jobcentre both announce closures


West Lothian has been dealt a bitter blow as job losses were announced at a local bank branch and Jobcentre offices in the last two days.

The Bank of Scotland said yesterday that its branch at East Main Street in Broxburn will close on August 9 while the Bathgate Department of Work and Pensions Jobcentre Plus office is also shutting down.

Both closures have put jobs at risk and mean people will have to travel further than ever to use both services.

The closest DWP office to Bathgate is Falkirk while Broxburn Bank of Scotland customers will now have to travel to Livingston.

MSP Fiona Hyslop has contacted Bank of Scotland to express her concerns about the closure of the branch.

She said: “Many customers will of course use internet banking, particularly over the last two years during the Pandemic, but a large portion of the town’s residents, mainly older people or those with young children, cannot always make the 11 mile round trip – which depending on the time of day can take up to 90 minutes there and back – to the nearest branch in Livingston and so really rely on having a banking service in their town.

“Indeed, many small businesses will also need to make business deposits and closure of their local branch will impact on how they trade.

“With Royal Bank of Scotland and TSB closing their branches already in Broxburn, the local community depends on Bank of Scotland for their personal banking needs and I have expressed this strongly in my letter to the Head of Bank of Scotland as well as highlighting the implications this closure will have on their customers and the local community.”

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Meanwhile Lothian MSP, Lorna Slater, said the closure of the Bathgate Department of Work and Pensions office is a “huge blow to local people” who warned that the extra costs and travel time will be particularly harsh for parents and young people.

The Bank of Scotland is also closing branches

Lorna has written UK Minister for Employment, Mims Davies MP following an announcement that the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is set to close 40 offices across the UK.

She said: “It is extremely disappointing that yet again the UK Government is moving jobs out of West Lothian. We have recently seen the closure of the Livingston HMRC office with staff forced to start commuting to Edinburgh or face redundancy.

“Many families in Bathgate are already struggling to make ends meet due to the brutal austerity of the UK Government and the consequences of the covid-19 pandemic. I am particularly worried about parents and younger people. The timing of this closure could not be worse for them.

“Commuting between Bathgate and Falkirk can be difficult, particularly when relying on public transport. By train this journey can take upwards of an hour and when relying on buses this can be even longer.”

Bank of Scotland, Halifax and Lloyds are to close 60 branches across the UK – with 19 to shut in Scotland.

Parent company Lloyds Banking Group said the decision was made as the number of customers now using online banking reached an all-time high this year.

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Vim Maru, group retail director, Lloyds Banking Group said: “Just like many other high street businesses, fewer customers are choosing to visit our branches.

“Our branch network is an important way for us to support our customers, but we need to adapt to the significant growth in customers choosing to do most of their everyday banking online.”

A UK Government spokesperson said of the DWP closures: “As part of plans to improve the services we deliver to claimants, help more people into employment and modernize public services, DWP is moving some back office staff to better, greener offices, which will not affect any public-facing roles.

“This is not a plan to reduce our headcount – where possible, our colleagues in offices due to close are being offered opportunities to be redeployed to a nearby site, or retrained into a new role in DWP or another government department.

“We are making every effort to fully support our staff through this process.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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