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Jobcentre Plus: Closures

Volume 491: debated on Monday 20 April 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many Jobcentre Plus offices (a) have closed in the last 12 months and (b) are scheduled for closure; what the reason for closure is in each case; and if he will make a statement. (266592)

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 how many Jobcentre Plus offices (a) have closed in the last 12 months and (b) are scheduled for closure; what the reason for closure is in each case. This is something that falls within the responsibilities delegated to me as Acting Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus.

54 Jobcentre Plus offices were closed during 2008 that were previously open to the public. During the summer of 2008 every Jobcentre Plus district was asked to begin a review of their service delivery plans, taking account of current economic conditions and future changes. That initial review led to a decision, announced before Christmas, to suspend the planned closure of 25 Jobcentres. A further three small sites in London were closed during March 2009. These had been announced last summer prior to the decision to suspend future closures. No further Jobcentre closures are planned at the present time.

The great majority of our services (in common with most large, modern organisations) are now delivered through the telephone and internet. For example, to give customers more convenient access, we have around half a million vacancies on-line at any time (our website receives close to one million job searches every working day), and new claims to benefit are predominantly taken by telephone with some taken on-line. This has brought our customer facing services together in a more coherent and integrated network and I believe Jobcentre Plus is well-placed to respond to the full range of economic conditions.

I have asked the Customer Service Directors in our Regions to keep their plans under review so that we continue to respond effectively to customer demand.