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Jobcentre Plus

Volume 402: debated on Friday 4 April 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will make a statement on the development and roll out of Jobcentre Plus. [105496]

Jobcentre Plus was launched in April 2002 with the merging of the Employment Service and those parts of the Benefits Agency providing services to working age people. Through our expanding network of modern, welcoming offices and the introduction of modern technology we are providing a better service to customers, employers and the local community.The roll-out of the new integrated offices is progressing well and we currently have more than 160 offices delivering the new service. On 10 December 2002 we announced the order of roll-out for the rest of the country to take place over the next three years.We are also investing in modern technology to improve access to our services. The introduction of new contact centres, touch-screen Jobpoints and improved internet services are enabling our customers to enquire about benefits and job vacancies at a time and place convenient to them.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the procedures are for consultation with (a) staff, (b) local communities and (c) local hon. Members over a proposal to reduce the services of or to close a local jobcentre. [105478]

From its introduction in April 2002, Jobcentre Plus inherited two large networks of offices from the former Employment Service and those parts of the Benefits Agency that provided services to people of working age. This estate has around 1,100 Jobcentres and 400 social security offices.This formation of Jobcentre Plus allows us to bring our services together into integrated offices providing help with both claiming benefits and moving into work. In locations where we currently, for example, have both a Jobcentre and a Social Security office providing separate services it may make sense to replace them with just one integrated Jobcentre Plus office to provijde all of our services.We are making sure that our plans for the rollout of Jobcentre Plus services are communicated widely. In June 2002 a letter was sent to MPs whose constituencies may have been affected by the rollout in 2002–03. District Managers also wrote to their local MPs, staff, trade unions and other local stakeholders to share their early" plans for the provision of services within the district and to invite comments. District Managers responded to the comments they received and wrote again in September 2002 with details of the agreed plans.On 10 December 2002 I gave a written statement,

Official Report, columns 8–9 WS giving details of the rollout of Jobcentre Plus for 2003–2006 and, in January 2003, a letter was sent to those MPs whose constituencies would be affected. District Managers will be contacting MPs and local stakeholders as planning begins in each new district.