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Department for Work and Pensions Estate

Volume 620: debated on Thursday 2 February 2017

9. What assessment the Government have made of the potential effect on equality for social security claimants of its proposals on the future of the Department for Work and Pensions estate. (908522)

The Government are committed to complying with our public sector equality duty, and we will take account of feedback from our public consultations. We will undertake an equality analysis as part of the detailed planning for service reconfiguration, which will include feedback from public consultations in those locations where this applies.

Last week, the UK Government announced the closure of 15 jobcentre sites in Scotland, including the Lonend site in Paisley. This follows a proposal to close eight jobcentres in Glasgow, which was announced in December. Does the Minister agree that it is a dereliction of duty and an insult to those affected not to conduct an equality impact assessment in advance of these plans, given the hardship that they will cause to thousands of the most disadvantaged people?

The views and opinions from the consultations we are carrying out with claimants who use the services across the country, not simply in Scotland, will be fed into our equality analysis.

The single biggest boost to equality delivered through our Department for Work and Pensions estate is the introduction of named universal credit work coaches and their personalised support. What is the current roll-out timetable?

The roll-out of universal credit is increasing apace, and from September we expect it to roll out to 43 jobcentres every single month. My right hon. Friend is right to point out that work coaches are a crucial part of getting people back into work. As part of the service reconfiguration, we are working to ensure that individual claimants can maintain the relationship with their work coaches.