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Departmental Sustainable Development

Volume 470: debated on Thursday 10 January 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what sustainability appraisal his Department has conducted of its recent relocation announcements; and what the outcome of the appraisal was. (172982)

[holding answer 10 December 2007]: The Department for Work and Pensions Head Office Estate (HOE) Programme undertook a diversity and equality assessment in each of the geographical areas in which closures were proposed which also addressed sustainability issues. The assessment showed that rationalisation would provide:

Impacts on the Environment

More conference and meeting facilities (including video conferencing) reducing the need to travel;

The city centre sites generally have good public transport links;

Good workspace practice enables the estate to better support the Department’s core business while reducing resource usage and cost; and

The buildings that are being closed are generally of a lower standard of accommodation than the buildings being retained once refurbished e.g. Peel Park, one of the retained sites in the North West has been accredited with ISO 14001 Environmental Management System.

Impacts on Society

Improved working conditions for Departmental staff;

Greater access to quiet rooms and open plan workspace thereby breaking down barriers, increasing staff morale and improving communication; and

Many of the retained sites have gym facilities, nursery and holiday play schemes operating and additional facilities such as Prayer Rooms, contemplation and nursing mother rooms.

In addition, the HOE Programme must also satisfy the DWP requirement to help to deliver the objectives of the 3rd UK Strategy for Sustainable Development and the programme team work proactively with others to ensure appropriate compliance is achieved including expert review of design proposals where appropriate.