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Regions White Paper

Volume 404: debated on Wednesday 30 April 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what progress his Department has made towards the goal set out in the White Paper, Your Region, Your Choice, of (a) ensuring that regional awareness and devolution feature strongly in Civil Service training and development, (b) increasing the mobility of civil servants between headquarters offices, regional offices and the Government Offices and (c) encouraging interchange between the Civil Service and organisations in the regions. [108579]

Staff within The Department are expected to be knowledgeable about the requirements and features of local labour markets, social trends and patterns and any legislative or funding issues which affect their region. Managers at various levels in our regional and district structure frequently obtain briefings, statistics concerning local labour market and other social trends. In addition, Policy makers and other Senior Managers are expected to maintain very close links and nurture relationships with Regional Development Agencies and other Government bodies and NGOs. This helps supplement knowledge gained from other sources, such as briefing information.

Arrangements have been developed, as part of the programme of work to establish the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), to facilitate movement of staff between the component businesses of DWP. These Regional Change Implementation Programme Executive (RECIPE) arrangements ensure that migration of staff between and within businesses is effectively managed to avoid surpluses and shortfalls of staff, including movement of staff between headquarters and regional offices. RECIPE groups also liaise with other government departments and the Government Office in their region to ensure, for example, a. coordinated approach to recruitment, and to facilitate inter-departmental moves.

DWP is an outward facing department and encourages its staff to. undertake interchange with a wide range of organisations, in particular those at a regional and local level, many of whom are our partners in the delivery of our business. Centrally held interchange records do not provide detailed breakdowns of all interchange activity and records of activity undertaken during 2002–03 are still to be collated from the regions and businesses. There have been positive moves undertaken by the DWP central Interchange Team to work with Government Offices on encouraging interchange between this department and the regions. The team has attended Interchange events in Government Office—North East and in London. In addition, the team has presented DWP Interchange proposals at the Heads of Personnel Forum in GO South West. Very recently the team has engaged with GO North East Staffing Forum to encourage interchange between our department and civil service departments in the region. Finally the DWP central team has developed strong working relationships in establishing opportunities for interchange with a number of government departments including: the Inland Revenue, Home Office and Cabinet Office.