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Job Centre/Benefit Office Amalgamation

Volume 406: debated on Thursday 12 June 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many job losses are anticipated in each region and nation from the amalgamation of job centres with benefit offices; how he plans to achieve these job losses and over what timescale; and what consultation is planned with hon. Members whose constituents may be affected. [114953]

The administration of Jobcentre Plus is a matter for the Chief Executive of the Jobcentre Plus, David Anderson. He will write to the hon. Member.

Letter from Mr. David Anderson to Mr. Jim Cousins, dated 12 June 2003:

As Jobcentre Plus is an Executive Agency, the Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your question concerning job losses as the result of Jobcentre Plus roll out. This is something that falls within the responsibilities delegated to me as Chief Executive of the Agency.
The national roll-out of Jobcentre Plus is bringing together Jobcentres and Benefit Offices to form new integrated offices. As part of the last spending review, the Government agreed to a major investment plan for the department including over £2bn for rolling out of Jobcentre Plus. A significant part of this investment will be used for 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.
In our early planning for each Jobcentre Plus district we are sharing our proposals for service delivery with a wide variety of people and organisations. While these are determined by local management they will include, for example, local MPs, Local Authorities, service delivery partners, employers' representatives, Citizens Advice Bureaux, welfare rights organisations, other Government Agencies, Health Authorities, Housing Associations, our staff and trade union representatives. After views and comments have been taken on board District Managers then share the finally agreed plans with the people and groups described above.
For districts introducing the new service in 2002/03 the main communications exercises took place between June and September, and we were pleased to receive comments and views on many aspects of our plans. We have taken account of those views, changed our plans where appropriate and responded to those who contacted us.
Jobcentre Plus plans to reduce its staff numbers to 76,600 by March 2006, equivalent to a 3.5 per cent reduction. However, staffing levels are planned to remain relatively stable over the next year. Regional plans have yet to be agreed for Jobcentre Plus.
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.