NORTH Ayrshire Labour have slammed the way in which Nicola Sturgeon announced locations for Scotland’s new Social Security Agency.

On Monday, the First Minister announced that 1,500 jobs at the agency would be split between Dundee and Glasgow.

The Labour administration say they presented a case to the government for the agency to be brought to North Ayrshire – highlighting the lack of civil service jobs in the area, the high unemployment rates and the significance of having it based in an area which has been devastated by Tory welfare reforms.

Scottish Government officials visited North Ayrshire to explore it as an option.

However, the First Minister made the announcement in Dundee before any official contact had beenmade with Council Leader Joe Cullinane to advise him of the decision.

The Social Security Agency is being established to administer the new social security powers that are being devolved to the Scottish Parliament.

Council Leader Joe Cullinane said: “I am really disappointed in the way that our First Minister has made this announcement.

“Rather than make a statement to the Scottish Parliament, Nicola Sturgeon decided to surround herself with SNP politicians for a photo opportunity.

“The way this important announcement has been made suggests that it was all about party politics and I am sure it is just a coincidence that the jobs will go to two SNP led local authorities.

“I know that Dundee and Glasgow face many challenges and the jobs will be welcomed by locals there but the economic and social impact of having the agency in North Ayrshire would have far surpassed anything that these two cities will gain. For us, 750-1500 civil service jobs would have been huge and the case we presented to the Scottish Government was a compelling one.

“Our unemployment rate is above the national average yet we have very few government linked jobs.

“Here was an opportunity to address that and with an agency tasked with delivering new devolved social security powers – what better way could there be to deal with this jobs issue than by creating new opportunities in an area so badly hit by Tory welfare reforms? “It feels like another snub for North Ayrshire from central government.”