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.
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.
“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 and need that support, and often need that advice,” he said.
“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. vThey are imposing a sanctions regime which is often punitive on people going through difficulties.”
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, met supporters as he left the venue to visit a steel plant in nearby Cambuslang.
His appearance in Coatbridge marked the Labour leader’s third day of a five-day trip to Scotland.