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House of Commons Hansard
x
Petitions
01 March 2017
Volume 622

Petitions

Wednesday 1 March 2017

OBSERVATIONS

Communities and Local Government

Greater Manchester Spatial Framework

The petition of residents of the UK,

Declares that the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework should avoid large-scale residential development on the greenbelt, which is a valuable barrier to urban sprawl and is hugely valued by local people; and further declares that brownfield land should be prioritised for residential development provided that proper infrastructure is in place.

The petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Greater Manchester Combined Authority and the Department for Communities and Local Government to make such provisions in the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework.

And the petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Mr David Nuttall, Official Report, 13 December 2016; Vol. 618, c. 763.]

[P001994]

Observations from the Minister for Housing and Planning, (Gavin Barwell):

Green Belts are created by local authorities, who are expected to protect them in line with policy set out in the National Planning Policy Framework. The Framework states that a Green Belt boundary can be altered only in exceptional circumstances, using the Local Plan process of public consultation followed by examination in public of the draft Plan.

Local authorities, working with their communities, are responsible for determining the best location for the new homes needed in the area. The Framework recognises that, in exceptional circumstances, a local authority may find it necessary to review the extent of its Green Belt. In the Housing White Paper, Fixing our broken housing market, the Government reaffirmed their commitment to Green Belt protection, but also proposed a strengthening of the test of the exceptional circumstances in which Green Belt boundaries can be adjusted. This proposal is that local authorities should amend Green Belt boundaries only when they can demonstrate that they have examined fully all other reasonable options for meeting their identified development requirements, and that any impact of removing the land from Green Belt should be offset by improvements to the environmental quality or accessibility of the remaining Green Belt land.

When any Green Belt alteration is proposed, the revised draft Plan with the supporting evidence is submitted for examination by a planning inspector. The inspector, who exercises independent judgement in the name of the Secretary of State, will consider whether the draft Plan is sound. A Plan will be found sound only if it is properly prepared, justified, effective and consistent with policy in the Framework.

The Framework encourages the re-use of brownfield land, if not of high environmental value. Brownfield sites differ greatly, and local authorities are best placed to assess their suitability, viability and availability. If desired locally, a local authority may consider having its own Plan policy to increase the take-up and prioritisation of brownfield sites.

To support development of brownfield land, the Government have accelerated disposal of public sector brownfield suitable for housing, and extended permitted development to give new life to thousands of under-used buildings. We are also introducing Brownfield Registers and Permission in principle. Brownfield Registers will provide up-to-date accessible information on the brownfield sites suitable for housing in each local authority area, giving developers, communities and investors more certainty about the potential of these sites. Permission in principle will give certainty from the outset that the fundamental principles of redevelopment are acceptable. Moreover, the £3 billion Home Building Fund will provide loans for small and medium-sized building firms, custom builders and offsite construction, and help to make more land, much of it brownfield, available for new homes. An additional £1.2 billion will be available to enable starter homes to be created on brownfield land.

I encourage the Petitioners to contribute to the preparation of Greater Manchester’s Spatial Framework for the period to 2035, and to support creation of a plan where growth can be accommodated sustainably.

The petition of residents of the UK,

Declares that the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework should avoid development on the green belt; further that Cheadle could lose much of its precious and much valued land if development is permitted on green belt land; and further that action should be taken to prioritise development on suitable brownfield sites to protect our green space.

The petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Greater Manchester Combined Authority, Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council and the Department for Communities and Local Government to agree a Greater Manchester Spatial Framework that prohibits development on green belt land and prioritises development on brownfield sites.

And the petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Mary Robinson, Official Report, 13 December 2016; Vol. 618, c. 674.]

[P001995]

The petition of residents of the UK,

Declares that the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework should avoid large-scale residential development on the greenbelt, which is a valuable barrier to urban sprawl and is hugely valued by local people; and further declares that brownfield land should be prioritised for residential development provided that proper infrastructure is in place.

The petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Greater Manchester Combined Authority and the Department for Communities and Local Government to avoid including large-scale residential development on the greenbelt in the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework, as well as prioritising brownfield land for residential developments.

And the petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by William Wragg, Official Report, 13 December 2016; Vol. 618, c. 763.]

[P001993]

Observations from the Minister for Housing and Planning (Gavin Barwell):

Green Belts are created by local authorities, who are expected to protect them in line with policy set out in the National Planning Policy Framework. The Framework states that a Green Belt boundary can be altered only in exceptional circumstances, using the Local Plan process of public consultation followed by examination in public of the draft Plan.

Local authorities, working with their communities, are responsible for determining the best location for the new homes needed in the area. The Framework recognises that, in exceptional circumstances, a local authority may find it necessary to review the extent of its Green Belt. In the Housing White Paper, Fixing our broken housing market, the Government reaffirmed their commitment to Green Belt protection, and proposed amendments to national policy that would require greater transparency about what constitutes exceptional circumstances, so that communities can hold their local authorities to account. The Government propose that local authorities should amend Green Belt boundaries only when they can demonstrate that they have examined fully all other reasonable options for meeting their identified development requirements, including:

making effective use of suitable brownfield sites, and the opportunities offered by estate regeneration;

the potential offered by land which is currently underused, including surplus public sector land where appropriate;

optimising the proposed density of development; and

exploring whether other authorities can help to meet some of the identified development requirement.

When any Green Belt alteration is proposed, the revised draft Plan with the supporting evidence is submitted for examination by a planning inspector. The inspector, who exercises independent judgement in the name of the Secretary of State, will consider whether the draft Plan is sound. A Plan will be found sound only if it is properly prepared, justified, effective and consistent with policy in the Framework.

The Framework encourages the re-use of brownfield land, if not of high environmental value. Brownfield sites differ greatly, and local authorities are best placed to assess their suitability, viability and availability. If desired locally, a local authority may consider having its own Plan policy to increase the take-up and prioritisation of brownfield sites. The Housing White Paper also confirms the Government’s intention to amend the National Planning Policy Framework to ensure that maximum use is made of brownfield sites suitable for homes, including an increase in the density of development.

To support development of brownfield land, the Government have accelerated disposal of public sector brownfield suitable for housing, and extended permitted development to give new life to thousands of under-used buildings. We are also introducing Brownfield Registers and Permission in principle. Brownfield Registers will provide up-to-date accessible information on the brownfield sites suitable for housing in each local authority area, giving developers, communities and investors more certainty about the potential of these sites. Permission in principle will give certainty from the outset that the fundamental principles of redevelopment are acceptable. Moreover, the £3 billion Home Building Fund will provide loans for small and medium-sized building firms, custom builders and offsite construction, and help to make more land, much of it brownfield, available for new homes. An additional £1.2 billion will be available to enable starter homes to be created on brownfield land.

I encourage the Petitioners to contribute to the preparation of Greater Manchester’s Spatial Framework for the period to 2035, and to support creation of a plan where growth can be accommodated sustainably.

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Boat Moorings on the River Avon

The Humble Petition of residents of Saltford,

Sheweth,

That the petitioners would prefer the inhabitants of some boats moored on the River Avon in Mead Lane to refrain from staying for long periods of time.

Wherefore your Petitioners pray that your Honourable House ask Her Majesty’s Government to consider the opinions of local residents and other boat owners in this regard.

And your Petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray, & c.—[Presented by Mr Jacob Rees-Mogg, Official Report, 11 January 2017; Vol. 619, c. 429.]

[P002002]

Observations from the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Andrea Leadsom):

The Government would like to thank the petitioners for raising the issue of mooring along the River Avon, Mead Lane, Saltford.

The Government do not have responsibility for operational matters, including mooring, on the waterways as this usually sits with either individual navigation authorities who have a duty to manage and operate their waterways; or riparian landowners, who may own the banks or the bed of the river.

For the stretch of the River Avon at Mead Lane, Saltford, the Canal & River Trust (the Trust), an independent charity established in July 2012 to replace British Waterways in England and Wales, is the navigation authority. This means that any vessel on the river would therefore require a boat licence from the trust. However, the trust does not own the banks or the bed of the river in this location, and as such, they do not control the mooring of boats along the side of the river adjacent to Mead Lane, unless it obstructs navigation in any way. The control of long-term moorings is likely to be with the riparian landowners on that side of the river and therefore a matter for them.

Work and Pensions

Closure of Anniesland Jobcentre

The petition of residents of Glasgow North West,

Declares that the Department for Work and Pensions’ plan to close Anniesland Jobcentre and half of all Jobcentre Plus offices in Glasgow is morally outrageous; express our concerns that the city is being used as the testing ground for more devastating cuts across the UK; further that the proposals to close eight of the 16 Jobcentre offices across Glasgow, will impact on tens of thousands of people in receipt of Jobseeker’s Allowance, Employment Support Allowance and Universal Credit; further that the UK Government has already indicated that 20% of the Jobcentre estate will see closures, and Glasgow has been handpicked to take a disproportionate hit of 50% closures; further that it will result in the poorest communities not being serviced by a Jobcentre and make it even harder for those seeking employment to get support; further that thousands of people could also have to travel further at additional cost to attend their appointments; further that the UK Government have brought forward these proposals without carrying out an Equality Impact Assessment and without consulting the Scottish Government; and further that any Jobcentre closures in Glasgow will see one of the most deprived parts of the UK starved of a vital service that should be available in communities; impacting both on Scottish workers at these centres and also those most disadvantaged in need of benefits.

The petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to halt any moves to close Anniesland Jobcentre, or at the very least carry out an Equality Impact Assessment immediately prior to a full public consultation across Scotland.

And the petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Carol Monaghan, Official Report, 8 February 2017; Vol. 621, c. 572.]

[P002008]

Observations from the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (Damian Green):

On 31 March 2018 DWP’s PFI PRIME (Private Resource Initiative for the Management of the Estate) contract with Telereal Trillium expires. This 20-year contract covers the majority of DWP’s current property portfolio of over 900 sites. This has given us a unique opportunity to review which offices we will need in the future, taking account of the increased use of our online services, the impact of Universal Credit and the anticipated demand on our services.

The falling claimant count and the increased use of our online services in recent years means that 20% of rent is going toward space we are not using. As a result we expect to save an estimated £180 million per year for 10 years as a result of our proposals for estate rationalisation.

We have sought to redesign our estate in a way that will continue to meet the needs of customers across Glasgow and Scotland, and this includes maintaining local staffing levels across our Jobcentre Plus network. All of our staff at Anniesland jobcentre will be relocated to our proposed site at Benalder Street. They will continue to offer the same support and services to our claimants and will maintain the relationships they have built up over time. In fact we are recruiting nationally and will have more Work Coaches in every nation and region and more in the city of Glasgow by March 2018.

Our plan has always been to reduce the amount of space we occupy nationally by 20% and we have announced similar proposals across England, Scotland, and Wales in line with this plan. As Jobcentres vary in size this 20% figure does not relate directly to the number of Jobcentres in a specific area. Scotland, and Glasgow in particular, has a disproportionate number of small jobcentres. Even if we do implement our current proposals, Scotland will continue to have a higher number of Jobcentres relative to both total population and claimant count compared to England, Scotland, and Wales as a whole.

We have carefully considered the wider impacts on local communities as part of review of our estate and the sites we intend to keep were identified based on a wide range of factors, including geographical coverage and accessibility. Where we are proposing to close a jobcentre we are taking all possible precautions to minimise disruption for customers and vulnerable people. This includes using face to face, e-mail, telephone and postal contact and, where none of those routes are appropriate, home visits.

We believe that it is a reasonable expectation that a customer travels to a new location which is within three miles or 20 minutes by public transport of their existing jobcentre. Where we propose moving a Jobcentre to a location which is further away than this we are consulting publicly. This includes our proposals for moving the services currently based at Maryhill, Bridgeton and Castlemilk in Glasgow and also Broxburn in West Lothian.

The Department has been mindful of its duties under the Equality Act 2010 throughout the development of these proposals. Statistical analysis of the potential impact of the proposals on people with the protected characteristics has informed high-level decision-making so far. We are now collecting local, site-specific information and will be conducting Equality Impact Assessments which will be reflected in our final business decisions.

Closure of Bridgeton Jobcentre

The petition of residents of Glasgow Central,

Declares that the Department for Work and Pensions’ plan to close Bridgeton Jobcentre and half of all Jobcentre Plus offices in Glasgow is morally outrageous; express our concerns that the city is being used as the testing ground for more devastating cuts across the UK; further that the proposals to close eight of the 16 Jobcentre offices across Glasgow, will impact on tens of thousands of people in receipt of Jobseeker’s Allowance, Employment Support Allowance and Universal Credit; further that the UK Government has already indicated that 20% of the Jobcentre estate will see closures, and Glasgow has been handpicked to take a disproportionate hit of 50% closures; further that it will result in the poorest communities not being serviced by a Jobcentre and make it even harder for those seeking employment to get support; further that thousands of people could also have to travel further at additional cost to attend their appointments; further that the UK Government have brought forward these proposals without carrying out an Equality Impact Assessment and without consulting the Scottish Government; and further that any Jobcentre closures in Glasgow will see one of the most deprived parts of the UK starved of a vital service that should be available in communities; impacting both on Scottish workers at these centres and also those most disadvantaged in need of benefits.

The petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to halt any moves to close Bridgeton Jobcentre, or at the very least carry out an Equality Impact Assessment immediately prior to a full public consultation across Scotland.

And the petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Alison Thewliss, Official Report, 08 February 2017; Vol. 621, c. 572.]

[P002006]

Observations from the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (Damian Green):

On 31 March 2018 DWP’s PFI PRIME (Private Resource Initiative for the Management of the Estate) contract with Telereal Trillium expires. This 20-year contract covers the majority of DWP’s current property portfolio of over 900 sites. This has given us a unique opportunity to review which offices we will need in the future, taking account of the increased use of our online services, the impact of Universal Credit and the anticipated demand on our services.

The falling claimant count and the increased use of our online services in recent years means that 20% of rent is going toward space we are not using. As a result we expect to save an estimated £180 million per year for 10 years as a result of our proposals for estate rationalisation.

We have sought to redesign our estate in a way that will continue to meet the needs of customers across Glasgow and Scotland, and this includes maintaining local staffing levels across our Jobcentre Plus network. All of our staff at Bridgeton jobcentre will be relocated to our proposed site at Shettleston Road. They will continue to offer the same support and services to our claimants and will maintain the relationships they have built up over time. In fact, we are recruiting nationally and will have more work coaches in every nation and region and more in the city of Glasgow by March 2018.

Our plan has always been to reduce the amount of space we occupy nationally by 20% and we have announced similar proposals across England, Scotland, and Wales in line with this plan. As Jobcentres vary in size this 20% figure does not relate directly to the number of Jobcentres in a specific area. Scotland, and Glasgow in particular, has a disproportionate number of small jobcentres. Even if we do implement our current proposals, Scotland will continue to have a higher number of Jobcentres relative to both total population and claimant count compared to England, Scotland, and Wales as a whole.

We have carefully considered the wider impacts on local communities as part of review of our estate and the sites we intend to keep were identified based on a wide range of factors, including geographical coverage and accessibility. Where we are proposing to close a jobcentre we are taking all possible precautions to minimise disruption for customers and vulnerable people. This includes using face to face, e-mail, telephone and postal contact and, where none of those routes are appropriate, home visits.

We believe that it is a reasonable expectation that a customer travels to a new location which is within three miles or 20 minutes by public transport of their existing jobcentre. Where we propose moving a Jobcentre to a location which is further away than this we are consulting publicly. This includes our proposals for moving the services currently based at Maryhill, Bridgeton and Castlemilk in Glasgow and also Broxburn in West Lothian.

The Department has been mindful of its duties under the Equality Act 2010 throughout the development of these proposals. Statistical analysis of the potential impact of the proposals on people with the protected characteristics has informed high-level decision-making so far. We are now collecting local, site-specific information and will be conducting Equality Impact Assessments which will be reflected in our final business decisions.

Closure of Cambuslang Jobcentre

The petition of residents of Rutherglen and Hamilton West,

Declares that Department for Work and Pensions plans to close eight Jobcentres in the Glasgow area, including Cambuslang Jobcentre, will impact tens of thousands of people in receipt of Jobseeker’s Allowance, Employment Support Allowance and Universal Credit, and that the consequences will be severely felt by some of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged people; have concerns that these closures will result in the poorest communities not being serviced by a Jobcentre and make it even harder for those seeking employment to get support, with people running a greater risk of falling foul of the UK Government’s sanctions regime; and are further concerned that these plans will also impact Scottish workers who will be forced to relocate to other Jobcentres.

The petitioners therefore request the House of Commons to urge the Government to halt any move to close Glasgow’s Jobcentres and carry out a thorough Equality Impact Assessment and go through a full and proper consultation before making any decision on the future of the estate.

And the petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Margaret Ferrier, Official Report, 9 February 2017; Vol. 621, c. 748.]

[P002013]

Observations from the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (Damian Green):

On 31 March 2018 DWP’s PFI PRIME (Private Resource Initiative for the Management of the Estate) contract with Telereal Trillium expires. This 20-year contract covers the majority of DWP’s current property portfolio of over 900 sites. This has given us a unique opportunity to review which offices we will need in the future, taking account of the increased use of our online services, the impact of Universal Credit and the anticipated demand on our services.

The falling claimant count and the increased use of our online services in recent years means that 20% of rent is going toward space we are not using. As a result we expect to save an estimated £180 million per year for 10 years as a result of our proposals for estate rationalisation.

We have sought to redesign our estate in a way that will continue to meet the needs of customers across Glasgow and Scotland, and this includes maintaining local staffing levels across our Jobcentre Plus network. All of our staff at Cambuslang jobcentre will be relocated to our proposed site at Macdonald Street. They will continue to offer the same support and services to our claimants and will maintain the relationships they have built up over time. In fact we are recruiting nationally and will have more Work Coaches in every nation and region and more in the city of Glasgow by March 2018.

Our plan has always been to reduce the amount of space we occupy nationally by 20% and we have announced similar proposals across England, Scotland, and Wales in line with this plan. As Jobcentres vary in size this 20% figure does not relate directly to the number of Jobcentres in a specific area. Scotland, and Glasgow in particular, has a disproportionate number of small jobcentres. Even if we do implement our current proposals, Scotland will continue to have a higher number of Jobcentres relative to both total population and claimant count compared to England, Scotland, and Wales as a whole.

We have carefully considered the wider impacts on local communities as part of review of our estate and the sites we intend to keep were identified based on a wide range of factors, including geographical coverage and accessibility. Where we are proposing to close a jobcentre we are taking all possible precautions to minimise disruption for customers and vulnerable people. This includes using face to face, e-mail, telephone and postal contact and, where none of those routes are appropriate, home visits.

We believe that it is a reasonable expectation that a customer travels to a new location which is within three miles or 20 minutes by public transport of their existing jobcentre. Where we propose moving a Jobcentre to a location which is further away than this we are consulting publicly. This includes our proposals for moving the services currently based at Maryhill, Bridgeton and Castlemilk in Glasgow and also Broxburn in West Lothian.

The Department has been mindful of its duties under the Equality Act 2010 throughout the development of these proposals. Statistical analysis of the potential impact of the proposals on people with the protected characteristics has informed high-level decision-making so far. We are now collecting local, site-specific information and will be conducting Equality Impact Assessments which will be reflected in our final business decisions.

Closure of Castlemilk and Langside Jobcentres

The petition of residents of Glasgow South,

Declares that the Department for Work and Pensions’ plan to close Castlemilk and Langside Jobcentres and half of all Jobcentre Plus offices in Glasgow is morally outrageous; express our concerns that the city is being used as the testing ground for more devastating cuts across the UK; further that the proposals to close eight of the 16 Jobcentre offices across Glasgow, will impact on tens of thousands of people in receipt of Jobseeker’s Allowance, Employment Support Allowance and Universal Credit; further that the UK Government has already indicated that 20% of the Jobcentre estate will see closures, and Glasgow has been handpicked to take a disproportionate hit of 50% closures; further that it will result in the poorest communities not being serviced by a Jobcentre and make it even harder for those seeking employment to get support; further that thousands of people could also have to travel further at additional cost to attend their appointments; further that the UK Government have brought forward these proposals without carrying out an Equality Impact Assessment and without consulting the Scottish Government; and further that any Jobcentre closures in Glasgow will see one of the most deprived parts of the UK starved of a vital service that should be available in communities; impacting both on Scottish workers at these centres and also those most disadvantaged in need of benefits.

The petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to halt any moves to close Castlemilk and Langside Jobcentres, or at the very least carry out an Equality Impact Assessment immediately prior to a full public consultation across Scotland.

And the petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Stewart Malcolm McDonald, Official Report, 8 February 2017; Vol. 621, c. 574.]

[P002012]

Observations from the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (Damian Green):

On 31 March 2018 DWP’s PFI PRIME (Private Resource Initiative for the Management of the Estate) contract with Telereal Trillium expires. This 20-year contract covers the majority of DWP’s current property portfolio of over 900 sites. This has given us a unique opportunity to review which offices we will need in the future, taking account of the increased use of our online services, the impact of Universal Credit and the anticipated demand on our services.

The falling claimant count and the increased use of our online services in recent years means that 20% of rent is going toward space we are not using. As a result we expect to save an estimated £180 million per year for 10 years as a result of our proposals for estate rationalisation.

We have sought to redesign our estate in a way that will continue to meet the needs of customers across Glasgow and Scotland, and this includes maintaining local staffing levels across our Jobcentre Plus network. All of our staff at Castlemilk and Langside jobcentres will be relocated to our proposed site at Newlands. They will continue to offer the same support and services to our claimants and will maintain the relationships they have built up over time. In fact we are recruiting nationally and will have more Work Coaches in every nation and region and more in the city of Glasgow by March 2018.

Our plan has always been to reduce the amount of space we occupy nationally by 20% and we have announced similar proposals across England, Scotland, and Wales in line with this plan. As Jobcentres vary in size this 20% figure does not relate directly to the number of Jobcentres in a specific area. Scotland, and Glasgow in particular, has a disproportionate number of small jobcentres. Even if we do implement our current proposals, Scotland will continue to have a higher number of Jobcentres relative to both total population and claimant count compared to England, Scotland, and Wales as a whole.

We have carefully considered the wider impacts on local communities as part of review of our estate and the sites we intend to keep were identified based on a wide range of factors, including geographical coverage and accessibility. Where we are proposing to close a jobcentre we are taking all possible precautions to minimise disruption for customers and vulnerable people. This includes using face to face, e-mail, telephone and postal contact and, where none of those routes are appropriate, home visits.

We believe that it is a reasonable expectation that a customer travels to a new location which is within three miles or 20 minutes by public transport of their existing jobcentre. Where we propose moving a Jobcentre to a location which is further away than this we are consulting publicly. This includes our proposals for moving the services currently based at Maryhill, Bridgeton and Castlemilk in Glasgow and also Broxburn in West Lothian.

Closure of Jobcentres in Parkhead and Easterhouse

The petition of residents of Glasgow East,

Declares that the Department for Work and Pensions’ plan to close Parkhead and Easterhouse Jobcentres and half of all Jobcentre Plus offices in Glasgow is morally outrageous; express our concerns that the city is being used as the testing ground for more devastating cuts across the UK; further that the proposals to close eight of the 16 Jobcentre offices across Glasgow, will impact on tens of thousands of people in receipt of Jobseeker’s Allowance, Employment Support Allowance and Universal Credit; further that the UK Government has already indicated that 20% of the Jobcentre estate will see closures, and Glasgow has been handpicked to take a disproportionate hit of 50% closures; further that it will result in the poorest communities not being serviced by a Jobcentre and make it even harder for those seeking employment to get support; further that thousands of people could also have to travel further at additional cost to attend their appointments; further that the UK Government have brought forward these proposals without carrying out an Equality Impact Assessment and without consulting the Scottish Government; and further that any Jobcentre closures in Glasgow will see one of the most deprived parts of the UK starved of a vital service that should be available in communities; impacting both on Scottish workers at these centres and also those most disadvantaged in need of benefits.

The petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to halt any moves to close Parkhead and Easterhouse Jobcentres, or at the very least carry out an Equality Impact Assessment immediately prior to a full public consultation across Scotland.

And the petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Natalie McGarry, Official Report, 8 February 2017; Vol. 621, c. 573.]

[P002007]

Observations from the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (Damian Green):

On 31 March 2018 DWP’s PFI PRIME (Private Resource Initiative for the Management of the Estate) contract with Telereal Trillium expires. This 20-year contract covers the majority of DWP’s current property portfolio of over 900 sites. This has given us a unique opportunity to review which offices we will need in the future, taking account of the increased use of our online services, the impact of Universal Credit and the anticipated demand on our services.

The falling claimant count and the increased use of our online services in recent years means that 20% of rent is going toward space we are not using. As a result we expect to save an estimated £180 million per year for 10 years as a result of our proposals for estate rationalisation.

We have sought to redesign our estate in a way which will continue to meet the needs of customers across Glasgow and Scotland, and this includes maintaining local staffing levels across our Jobcentre Plus network. All of our staff at Parkhead and Easterhouse jobcentres will be relocated to our proposed site at Shettleston Road. They will continue to offer the same support and services to our claimants and will maintain the relationships they have built up over time. In fact we are recruiting nationally and will have more work coaches in every nation and region and more in the city of Glasgow by March 2018.

Our plan has always been to reduce the amount of space we occupy nationally by 20% and we have announced similar proposals across England, Scotland, and Wales in line with this plan. As Jobcentres vary in size this 20% figure does not relate directly to the number of Jobcentres in a specific area. Scotland, and Glasgow in particular, has a disproportionate number of small jobcentres. Even if we do implement our current proposals, Scotland will continue to have a higher number of Jobcentres relative to both total population and claimant count compared to England, Scotland, and Wales as a whole.

We have carefully considered the wider impacts on local communities as part of review of our estate and the sites we intend to keep were identified based on a wide range of factors, including geographical coverage and accessibility. Where we are proposing to close a jobcentre we are taking all possible precautions to minimise disruption for customers and vulnerable people. This includes using face to face, e-mail, telephone and postal contact and, where none of those routes are appropriate, home visits.

We believe that it is a reasonable expectation that a customer travels to a new location which is within three miles or 20 minutes by public transport of their existing jobcentre. Where we propose moving a Jobcentre to a location which is further away than this we are consulting publicly. This includes our proposals for moving the services currently based at Maryhill, Bridgeton and Castlemilk in Glasgow and also Broxburn in West Lothian.

The Department has been mindful of its duties under the Equality Act 2010 throughout the development of these proposals. Statistical analysis of the potential impact of the proposals on people with the protected characteristics has informed high-level decision-making so far. We are now collecting local, site-specific information and will be conducting Equality Impact Assessments which will be reflected in our final business decisions.

Closure of Maryhill Jobcentre

The petition of residents of Glasgow North,

Declares that the Department for Work and Pensions’ plan to close Maryhill Jobcentre and half of all Jobcentre Plus offices in Glasgow is morally outrageous; express our concerns that the city is being used as the testing ground for more devastating cuts across the UK; further that the proposals to close eight of the 16 Jobcentre offices across Glasgow, will impact on tens of thousands of people in receipt of Jobseeker’s Allowance, Employment Support Allowance and Universal Credit; further that the UK Government has already indicated that 20% of the Jobcentre estate will see closures, and Glasgow has been handpicked to take a disproportionate hit of 50% closures; further that it will result in the poorest communities not being serviced by a Jobcentre and make it even harder for those seeking employment to get support; further that thousands of people could also have to travel further at additional cost to attend their appointments; further that the UK Government have brought forward these proposals without carrying out an Equality Impact Assessment and without consulting the Scottish Government; and further that any Jobcentre closures in Glasgow will see one of the most deprived parts of the UK starved of a vital service that should be available in communities; impacting both on Scottish workers at these centres and also those most disadvantaged in need of benefits.

The petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to halt any moves to close Maryhill Jobcentre, or at the very least carry out an Equality Impact Assessment immediately prior to a full public consultation across Scotland.

And the petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Patrick Grady, Official Report, 8 February 2017; Vol. 612, c. 571.]

[P002005]

Observations from the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (Damian Green):

On 31 March 2018 DWP’s PFI PRIME (Private Resource Initiative for the Management of the Estate) contract with Telereal Trillium expires. This 20-year contract covers the majority of DWP’s current property portfolio of over 900 sites. This has given us a unique opportunity to review which offices we will need in the future, taking account of the increased use of our online services, the impact of Universal Credit and the anticipated demand on our services.

The falling claimant count and the increased use of our online services in recent years means that 20% of rent is going toward space we are not using. As a result we expect to save an estimated £180 million per year for 10 years as a result of our proposals for estate rationalisation.

We have sought to redesign our estate in a way that will continue to meet the needs of customers across Glasgow and Scotland, and this includes maintaining local staffing levels across our Jobcentre Plus network. All of our staff at Maryhill jobcentre will be relocated to our proposed site at Atlas Road. They will continue to offer the same support and services to our claimants and will maintain the relationships they have built up over time. In fact we are recruiting nationally and will have more Work Coaches in every nation and region and more in the city of Glasgow by March 2018.

Our plan has always been to reduce the amount of space we occupy nationally by 20% and we have announced similar proposals across England, Scotland, and Wales in line with this plan. As Jobcentres vary in size this 20% figure does not relate directly to the number of Jobcentres in a specific area. Scotland, and Glasgow in particular, has a disproportionate number of small jobcentres. Even if we do implement our current proposals, Scotland will continue to have a higher number of Jobcentres relative to both total population and claimant count compared to England, Scotland, and Wales as a whole.

We have carefully considered the wider impacts on local communities as part of review of our estate and the sites we intend to keep were identified based on a wide range of factors, including geographical coverage and accessibility. Where we are proposing to close a jobcentre we are taking all possible precautions to minimise disruption for customers and vulnerable people. This includes using face to face, e-mail, telephone and postal contact and, where none of those routes are appropriate, home visits.

We believe that it is a reasonable expectation that a customer travels to a new location which is within three miles or 20 minutes by public transport of their existing jobcentre. Where we propose moving a Jobcentre to a location which is further away than this we are consulting publicly. This includes our proposals for moving the services currently based at Maryhill, Bridgeton and Castlemilk in Glasgow and also Broxburn in West Lothian.

The Department has been mindful of its duties under the Equality Act 2010 throughout the development of these proposals. Statistical analysis of the potential impact of the proposals on people with the protected characteristics has informed high-level decision-making so far. We are now collecting local, site-specific information and will be conducting Equality Impact Assessments which will be reflected in our final business decisions.