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Jobcentre Plus

Volume 403: debated on Monday 14 April 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions when Jobcentre Plus will be extended to cover the whole of England. [108714]

The roll-out of Jobcentre Plus is progressing well and we currently have 230 offices delivering the new service. We aim to cover the whole of the country over the next three years. including my hon. Friend's constituency in 2005–06.In the intervening period, however, we will continue to develop our services. For example, in my hon. Friend's constituency, we now have staff with benefits experience working in Jobcentres and vice versa. This is helping Jobcentres to provide a more integrated service.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what his Department's policy is regarding (a) access to JobCentre Plus offices and (b) meetings with JobCentre Plus staff for members of the public who have contracted hepatitis A, B, C, or D; and if he will make a statement. [100322]

The health and safety of both staff and customers is of paramount importance. Therefore it is vital that staff know how to deal with customers in a way that does not endanger their own health and safety or that of other people in the office.The main source of health and safety advice is the departmental website, which can be accessed by all members of staff. This contains comprehensive guidance on all aspects of DWP health and safety policy. The Health and Safety Division is currently developing a new comprehensive programme of health and safety training and awareness for Jobcentre Plus. In the interim, staff receive a variety of training including a H&S induction course for staff working on Trillium sites, training in how to prevent and calm difficult or aggressive situations for staff with face-to-face contact with customers, and a number of health and safety leaflets and videos which are used to prompt and reinforce safe working practices.The hepatitis virus is spread by contact with the bodily fluids of an infected person, or by cross blood infection. Therefore in principle, staff working in a DWP business are at low risk of contracting the hepatitis virus through dealing with customers.The first contact with a customer is normally by telephone. If during the course of the conversation, the staff member becomes aware that the customer has an infectious disease, the computer record is noted to alert staff who subsequently deal with the customer. Customers with the hepatitis virus do however have full access to all the services provided by Jobcentre Plus but, wherever possible, those customers would be dealt with by telephone or post.Most of the time, staff will be unaware of when a customer has the hepatitis virus. They are therefore encouraged to safeguard their own health at all times by considering their own basic hygiene, and not taking any risks if a customer is bleeding. All blood spillages must he treated as infected regardless of the source. Detailed advice and guidance on how to maintain basic hygiene when dealing with discarded needles/syringes or blood spills is available on the Jobcentre Plus health and safety website.As with all our records, information held by Jobcentre Plus on a customer's health is protected by the Data Protection Act. As such this information is not given to any other organisation or person, including members of the customers family, without the express permission of the customer.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many residents of Hendon are JobCentre Plus clients; how many such clients are on each of the New Deal programmes; how many residents of Hendon received services from Burnt Oak Job Centre before its closure; and how many received services from Hendon JobCentre Plus office. [108238]

[holding answer 9 Apri1 2003]: At the end of August 2002 there were 9,500 JobCentre Plus clients resident in Hendon constituency.1–5

1Source: Client Group Analyses of DWP Information Centre 5 per cent. statistical samples.

2 Number is based on a 5 per cent. sample, and are therefore subject to a degree of sampling variation.

3 Number is rounded to the nearest hundred.

4 JobCentre Plus clients are defined as working age recipients of one or more of income support (non minimum income guarantee claimants), jobseeker's allowance, incapacity benefit, severe disablement allowance, invalid care allowance, widow's benefit or bereavement benefit.

5 Parliamentary constituencies are allocated by matching postcodes against the relevant ONS postcode directory, and represent constituency boundaries as at May 1997.

The available information on New Deal participants in the Hendon parliamentary constituency area is in the table.

New Deal Participants in the Hendon Parliamentary Constituency Area1,2,5

New Deal Programme

Number of Participants

New Deal for Young People3210
New Deal 25 plus3210
New Deal for Lone Parents3180
New Deal 50 plus440

1 Source: New Deal Evaluation Database.

2 All figures are rounded to the nearest 10. This is in line with National Statistics guidelines and prevents possible disclosure of individuals.

3 As at end of December 2002.

4 As at end of February 2003.

5 Information is not available at constituency level for the other New Deal Programmes.

Burnt Oak Jobcentre was an advice and information office, and as such, had no register of customers. However, we have been able to estimate that, on average, 255 customers a month used that office. It provided job search facilities to people from all over north-west London and, therefore, we are unable to identify how many residents of Hendon received services from Burnt Oak Jobcentre.

Hendon Jobcentre is not scheduled to become a Jobcentre Plus office until it is rolled out along with the rest of north London District in 2005–06. The Jobcentre has a current register of 1,775 jobseeker's allowance customers. In addition, it is estimated that it sees around 100 non-jobseeker's allowance customers every week.