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Regional Policy

Volume 404: debated on Tuesday 6 May 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what progress his Department has made towards the aim in the White Paper, Your Region, Your Choice, of assessing the balance of staff between the centre and the regions in terms of effective policy design and implementation; and what examples there have been since the publication of the White Paper of the Department deciding between locating new streams of work (a) in and (b) outside London and the South East. [108571]

The Department for Work and Pensions currently has no single geographical work force strategy addressing staff and work move shifts from London and the South East to the regions. However, local labour market conditions mean that there is less pressure on recruitment and retention away from London.Jobcentre Plus already processes London benefit related work at sites at Ashton-in-Makerfield, in north-west Glasgow and Belfast. In moving to centralised processing operations, The Pension Service has decided to locate all 26 Pension Centres outside London and the South East although there will continue to be a Pension Local Service presence in these regions. Some businesses have used centralised processing and contract centres for some time e.g. Child Support Agency Centres and Disability Benefit Centres.

By the nature of its business (more face to face contact) and customer base, the department, particularly Jobcentre Plus, will continue to have a presence in all large urban areas including London. There are also plans to encourage customers to make greater use of the telephone for their initial contact.

Around 90 per cent. of DWP staff work in delivery businesses while 10 per cent. are in headquarters working on a range of policy and support functions. The highest concentration of headquarters staff, 30 per cent., is in the Yorkshire and Humber region followed by the North West region (26 per cent.), London (16 per cent.) and the North West (14 per cent.).

Information on the distribution of DWP staff between Government Office Regions and function is in the following table:

Government office region

Delivery staff

Headquarters staff

Total staff

East Midlands6,4902636,753
East Midlands6,6391296,768
North East13,4241,94615,370
North West23,3953,53226,927
South East9,4231339,556
South West8,5111868,697
West Midlands11,61342012,033
Yorkshire and The Humber10,3944,07114,465


Numbers are point in time as at 31 January 2003.

Numbers are expressed as staff in post (headcount) and are consistent with Cabinet Office definitions other than the inclusion of staff on paid maternity leave.