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Jobcentre Plus (Closures)

Volume 621: debated on Monday 20 February 2017

16. What support his Department is providing to staff and service users before the proposed jobcentre closures announced in January 2017 take place. (908772)

The proposals are subject to consultation with staff and, where appropriate, the public. Should they proceed, the Department will support customers through any change of jobcentre. Staff will continue to offer the same support and services to customers and to maintain the relationships they have built up over time.

Now that the Glasgow consultation is closed, can the Minister tell us the following: when will the consultation responses be published; when will the equality impact assessment be published; and when will the decision be announced? On the announcement, will he assure the House that it will not be slipped out in a press release or a written statement, but that he will make it from the Dispatch Box?

As the hon. Gentleman mentioned, the consultation on the jobcentres in Glasgow has closed. We are working through a number of responses and will do so within the timeframe. I anticipate making announcements in April.

I have met the 83 people who work at Vinovium House in my constituency—another office that is scheduled for closure. Will the Minister explain what the impact of the closure of that child maintenance back office will be and how it can possibly be efficient to close an office in one of the most low-rent towns in the entire nation?

The entire estates review has come about because a 20-year private finance initiative contract comes to an end at the end of March 2018. That has presented the opportunity—indeed, the requirement—to review almost the entire DWP estate. We are trying to consolidate it into less space to save money for the taxpayer and to do things more efficiently. We do not want the people who work in those places, particularly in back-of-house locations, to be made redundant. We are trying extremely hard to find other opportunities for them elsewhere in DWP or in the public sector.