asked the Secretary of State for Employment what criteria are used before reaching a decision to open a new jobcentre in any particular location.
I am informed by the Manpower Services Commission that in deciding whether a jobcentre should be opened in a particular location a thorough examination is made of how best and most cost-effectively the public employment service can meet the needs of both employers and job seekers in that locality. Various options are considered, including updating and converting existing employment offices to jobcentre standard, rehousing offices in new, better sited premises and rationalising the network so that, for example, where appropriate, smaller offices replace larger ones.The majority of cases involve rehousing. Where this is considered, the new jobcentre would be expected to show a significant improvement in vacancy finding and placing performance—and it should be clear that this improvement could not be obtained with existing premises. Furthermore, the unit cost of placings should normally be reduced after taking into account the capital costs of rehousing. Any exceptions to these criteria require special justification.