The petition of residents of the UK,
Declares that the closure of the two remaining Jobcentres in Wavertree should not take place; and further that meaningful consultations should take place on proposals that consider the delivery of services to the public.
The petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to stop the closure of two remaining Jobcentres in Wavertree; and further that the Government should immediately halt all DWP Jobcentre/office closure proposals, undertake immediate Equality Impact Assessments, and enter into proper meaningful consultation on all proposals that affect communities and the delivery of services to the public.
And the petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Luciana Berger, Official Report, 28 February 2017; Vol. 622, c. 267.]
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 Liverpool, and this includes maintaining local staffing levels across our Jobcentre Plus network. All of our customer facing staff at Wavertree and Edge Hill jobcentres will be relocated to our proposed site at Toxteth, with our back of house staff relocating to Huyton jobcentre. 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 and expect to have more Work Coaches in every nation and region in March 2018 compared to today.
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.
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 is 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 have consulted publicly. This included our proposals for moving the services currently based at Wavertree and Edge Hill.
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 Analysis which will be reflected in our final business decisions.