asked the Secretary of State for Employment what increase in staffing was made necessary by converting the now defunct employment offices to job shops; and at what cost.
I am advised by the Manpower Services Commission that the budgeted average additional staff for each jobcentre is 1·5 at a cost of £6,545 per annum. The level of staffing in jobcentres is directly related to their use, and the need for additional staffing arises mainly because jobcentres are more popular with job seekers than are employment offices.
asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will make a statement on the numbers of people placed in 1976 as against the numbers placed over the same period in the previous year in the same areas through the now defunct employment offices.
I am informed by the Manpower Services Commission that the number of people placed in employment by the Government's employment service between March and October 1976 was 1,006,742, compared with 906,026 placings in the same period in 1975. Where job-centres have replaced employment offices our estimate is that the number of persons placed has been increased by an average of over 30 per cent.
asked the Secretary of State for Employment what reductions he is planning in the number of new jobcentres in order to meet the Government requirement to curtail all unnecessary expenditure.
We are not planning any reduction in the number of jobcentres required to complete the national network, but the Manpower Services Commission is currently carrying out a detailed evaluation of the cost effectiveness of these offices.
asked the Secretary of State for Employment what was the Government's intention in setting up jobcentres; and whether their expectation has been fulfilled.
I am informed by the Manpower Services Commission, which has the responsibility for the employment services, that jobcentres are an intrinsic part of the modernisation programme to ensure the employment service fulfils its rôle. They are designed to provide a better and wider range of service than old-style employment offices. The jobcentre programme has been continually monitored, and the results of a major evaluation project will be available shortly. Jobcentres have fulfilled expectations by catering for substantially more clients, and of a wider range, than the more traditional offices; by placing more job seekers and filling more vacancies; and by increasing users' satisfaction with the employment service.
asked the Secretary of State for Employment to what extent jobcentres have created more work or more employment or better matching than the private employment agencies.
I am informed by the Manpower Services Commission that no comparative data are available about the performance of private employment agencies.
asked the Secretary of State for Employment what steps jobcentres take to find work for individuals registered as unemployed.
I am informed by the Manpower Services Commission that all unemployed people who register for work are matched against notified vacancies. For those who cannot be suitably placed by this means a variety of avenues are explored. These include speculative approaches to employers, contact with other jobcentres and scrutiny of local newspaper advertisements.