[holding answer 19 January 2009]: The administration of Jobcentre Plus is a matter for the acting chief executive of Jobcentre Plus, Mel Groves. I have asked him to provide the hon. Member with the information requested.
Letter from Mel Groves:
The Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your question asking when the former Jobcentre Plus office at Wick lane, Christchurch will be brought back into use and what the liability of his Department is for empty property rates on the premises. This is something that falls within the responsibilities delegated to me as Acting Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus.
Christchurch Jobcentre Plus was closed on 28 March 2008 as a result of the review of our service delivery plans in the South West region. As a part of the review the new Bournemouth Jobcentre Plus was future proofed to cope with any downturn in the economy and consequent increase in Jobcentre Plus business volumes. There is no intention to bring the Jobcentre Plus office at Wick lane, Christchurch into use.
I can confirm the property used in Christchurch by Jobcentre Plus was provided for the Department by Landsecurities Trillium under the PRIME contract, and upon completion of the formal vacation actions, the Department has no further liability (Landsecurities Trillium hold all the leases). The Asset manager for Trillium has confirmed the lease for part of the space has expired and it was “returned” to the landlord in the summer. The remaining part of the space is unoccupied and is currently being marketed. However, they have had no firm interest and the building remains vacant. Trillium is meeting the business rates payable on the property. The Department has had no liability for empty property rates since the property was formally disposed of on 1 July 2008.
I hope this information is helpful.