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Jobcentre Plus

Volume 457: debated on Thursday 8 March 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions in which areas the 0800 number to contact Jobcentre Plus is available to claimants of working age benefit. (118790)

The administration of Jobcentre Plus is a matter for the Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus, Lesley Strathie. I have asked her to provide the hon. Member with the information requested.

Letter from Lesley Strathie:

The Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your question asking in which areas the 0800 number to contact Jobcentre Plus is available to claimants of working age benefit. This is something which falls within the responsibilities delegated to me as Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus.

The new 0800 telephone number is part of a wider package of measures being delivered to improve the process for New and Repeat Claims to Income Support, Jobseeker’s Allowance and Incapacity Benefit. These changes began in January 2007 at the contact centre in Grimsby.

The number is currently available to people calling from East Yorkshire and Humber, Calderdale, Kirklees & Wakefield and Leeds, including the Textphone service, and will continue with a gradual rollout to the remaining contact centres by the end of May 2007.

I hope this helpful.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps he is taking to advise members of the public of the changes to the Jobcentre Plus dialling code. (118791)

The administration of Jobcentre Plus is a matter for the Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus, Lesley Strathie. I have asked her to provide the hon. Member with the information requested.

Letter from Lesley Strathie:

The Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your question asking what steps are being taken to advise the public of the changes to the Jobcentre Plus dialling code. This is something which falls within the responsibilities delegated to me as Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus.

The new 0800 telephone number is part of a wider package of measures being delivered to improve the process for New and Repeat Claims to Income Support, Jobseekers Allowance and Incapacity Benefit. These changes are being rolled out across the country between January and May 2007 and will provide a better customer service, eliminate double handling and be more affordable.

The 0800 feature will give the majority of our customers the facility to make a benefit claim in a single call which will be free from landlines.

As part of this package of improvements we are taking a series of steps to inform customers of the new number:

As the number is introduced into our Contact Centres, posters showing the 0800 number will be prominently displayed at linked Jobcentres. Leaflets will be made available at Jobcentres for customers to take away with them. Posters and leaflets are also being distributed to local external partners such as the Citizens Advice Bureau to display and issue to customers as appropriate.

Jobcentres will also have cards available for customers, providing details of the 0800 number plus additional useful local contact numbers.

To support the transition to the new 0800 number, the current Contact Centre 0845 numbers will have a message redirecting customers to the new 0800 number. This will be in place for a period of 12 months.

Telephone directories will be updated as reprints become due.

The Jobcentre Plus Internet site will also be updated to reflect the change to the 0800 number as roll out progresses.

I hope this is helpful.