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Jobcentre Plus

Volume 406: debated on Friday 23 May 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will make it his policy to ensure that Jobcentre Plus remains in the public sector; and if he will make a statement. [112064]

Jobcentre Plus is committed to providing services in accordance with the principles of public service reform, set out in Reforming our public services: Principles into practice. The four key principles are standards and accountability; devolution and delegation; flexibility and incentives; and expanding choice. Jobcentre Plus is committed to putting the customer first by using the private sector where appropriate, such as to expand choice or to drive up the standard of performance.Jobcentre Plus already makes considerable use of the private and voluntary sectors in delivering services to jobless people. This gives a much wider range of provision to choose from, helping to match services more closely with individual customer"s needs. We expect Jobcentre Plus to continue to involve the private and voluntary sectors in delivering elements of its current and future programmes where they can help improve the service we deliver.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions pursuant to his answer to the hon. Member for Hayes and Harlington (John McDonnell) of 6 May 2003, Official Report, column 555W, on Jobcentre staff, what effect across the UK the workforce efficiency plans will have on the level of staffing; and if he will make a statement. [113259]

The administration of Jobcentre Plus is a matter for the Acting Chief Executive of the Jobcentre Plus, Clare Dodgson. She will write to the hon. Member.

Letter from Clare Dodgson to Paul Holmes, dated 22 May 2003:

As Jobcentre Plus is an Executive Agency, the Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your question concerning the effect our workforce efficiency plans will have on our level of staffing. This is something that falls within the responsibilities delegated to me as Acting Chief Executive of the Agency.
As part of the last spending review, the Government has agreed to a major investment plan for the department including over £2 billion for rolling out of Jobcentre Plus. A significant part of this investment will mean better technology, improved training and modernised business processes. As a result we will, over time, need fewer staff to provide enhanced services to our customers.
Jobcentre Plus plans to reduce its staff numbers to 76,600 by March 2006, equivalent to a 3.5 per cent. reduction over three years.
While the precise impact will be different in different parts of the country and there may be areas of greater difficulty, the planned reductions in staffing will be carefully managed and are within our overall margins of staff turnover. We expect therefore to manage this reduction by moving staff to other parts of the Department for Work and Pensions or through natural wastage.
I hope this is helpful.