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Since 2002 Jobcentre Plus has completed a national modernisation programme to improve levels of service to all our customers through new style Jobcentres, Contact Centres, Benefit Delivery Centres and the Internet. The roll out of Jobcentre Plus in the South East was completed with the opening of our new Portsmouth Jobcentre Plus office on 24 September 2008. The Jobcentre Plus network in the South East currently consists of 73 Jobcentres and 8 Benefit Delivery Centres.
Our customers expect to access our services like any other organisation, as easily, directly and flexibly as possible. We are, therefore, offering far more of our services, both to employers and individual customers, through our Contact Centre network and the Internet. Customers making a benefit claim or enquiry can call a 0800 number to provide claim details by phone, this is free to landline users, with a call back facility available for those using mobile phones. This reduces the need to call into a Jobcentre and increasingly our offices are used for booked appointments only. In addition, we are providing a more individual service for our most disadvantaged customers, delivered in partnership with the public, private and voluntary sectors.
Social Fund services to most of the region are provided by the Jobcentre Plus Benefit Delivery centre in Bowback House, Milton Keynes. The former Social Security Office Sunley House in Aylesbury has been used for some Social Fund work on a temporary basis until sufficient space became available in Milton Keynes.
We have now acquired sufficient space in Bowback House, Milton Keynes to house the Sunley House Social Fund operations. The current planning assumption is that Social Fund work will migrate to Milton Keynes Benefit Delivery Centre by 31 March 2009. This will allow Jobcentre Plus to close Sunley House and realise a saving to its estate costs of approximately £420,000 in 2009/10.
All Social Fund staff in Sunley House have been given the opportunity to redeploy to Milton Keynes Benefit Delivery Centre. A number of staff have already done so. Staff will also be able to apply for other Department for Work and Pensions vacancies at Aylesbury and Chesham Jobcentres as well as vacancies within HMRC in the Aylesbury area.
Services to Jobcentre Plus customers in Aylesbury will not be affected by the closure of Sunley House as Social Fund payments to Aylesbury customers will be made from the Jobcentre in Heron House which is just a few hundred yards away.
I hope you find this information helpful. I have asked Paul Williams (Customer Services Director for the South East) to contact you to arrange a suitable time to discuss your concerns either by phone or face to face, whichever is more convenient for you. However, if you would like to contact Paul directly in the meantime his number is: 01483 446065.
Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many jobcentres have closed in each month since 1 January 2007; how many are scheduled for closure in the next year; and if he will make a statement. 
The Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your questions asking how many Jobcentres have closed in each month since 1st January 2007, and how many are scheduled for closure in the next year. This is something that falls within the responsibilities delegated to me as Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus.
The following table provides a month by month breakdown of the 81 Jobcentre Plus office closures between 1 January 2007 and October 2008.
|Jobcentre Plus office closures broken down by month|
Three Jobcentres which are currently open to the public are scheduled for closure this year. They are all within Jobcentre Plus London Region: Brixton Hill, Feltham and Orpington. All three have been subject to a rigorous consultation process. Other than these, no decisions have yet been taken on further closures over the next 12 months.
Mr. Waterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what records Jobcentre Plus has of the number of items of mail it has sent through the Royal Mail signed for services which have been (a) lost and (b) misplaced in the last 12 months. 
Mr. McNulty: The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) use the Recorded Delivery and Special Delivery service, which are signed for postal services provided by Royal Mail. DWP business users of these services are responsible for reporting any misplaced or lost items directly to Royal Mail and records of lost or misplaced items are therefore not held centrally within DWP or centrally within Jobcentre Plus. This information could be provided only at disproportionate cost.
Mr. Alan Reid:
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions pursuant to the answer of 20 October 2008, Official Report, columns 19-20, on job centres, what his definition is of front line staff; and how many (a) full-time equivalent staff and (b) front line full-time equivalent staff were employed in each
job centre in Argyll and Bute in each year since 2004. 
Mr. McNulty [holding answer 27 October 2008]: The administration of Jobcentre Plus is a matter for the chief executive of Jobcentre Plus, Lesley Strathie. I have asked her to provide the hon. Member with the information requested.
The Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your question, pursuant to the Answer of 20"1 October, Official Report, columns 19-20, on jobcentres, what his definition is of front line staff; and how many (a) full-time equivalent staff and (b) front line full-time equivalent staff were employed in each jobcentre in Argyll and Bute in each year since 2004.
The number of frontline full time equivalent staff employed in the following Jobcentres in Argyll and Bute is as follows. All staff working in a Jobcentre are regarded as frontline staff.
|March each year|
Headcount figures are quoted in full-time equivalents using the Office for National Statistics criteria for counting headcount and details the position at March in each year.
Jobcentre Plus Management Information Portal
It should be noted that the activities carried out in Jobcentres in 2008 are not the same as those carried out in 2004 as a result of the transfer of processing activities to Benefit Delivery Centres. For this reason it could be misleading to compare the staffing levels year on year.
Jenny Willott: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many (a) Jobcentre Plus staff and (b) customer-facing Jobcentre Plus staff there are planned to be (i) in total, (ii) in each region and (iii) in each Jobcentre Plus district in each of the next three years; and if he will make a statement. 
The Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your question asking how many (a) Jobcentre Plus staff and (b) customer facing Jobcentre Plus staff there were (i) in total, (ii) in each region and (iii) in each Jobcentre Plus district in each of the next 3 years; and if he will make a statement. This is something which falls within the responsibilities delegated to me as Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus.
The Departments Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR) 2007 settlement provides for the following staffing numbers in Jobcentre Plus:
|March each year||Number|
We do not have a future breakdown of this staffing by the categories you request.
Our plans are under active review in the light of the current economic situation. We are already planning for Jobcentre Plus to have 2,000 more staff than the original assumption to enable us to respond to increasing numbers of customers. We do not yet have the detailed plans which describe the revised numbers for this year below a national level.
Jenny Willott: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) how many maternity allowance claims remained unprocessed at the end of each quarter in each of the last three years; and if he will make a statement; 
(2) how many and what proportion of maternity allowance claims were processed within (a) seven, (b) 14, (c) 21, (d) 28, (e) 35, (f) 49 and (g) 63 days in each quarter of the last three years; and if he will make a statement; 
The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions has asked me to reply to your questions on the processing of Maternity Allowance applications. This is something which falls within the responsibilities delegated to me as Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus.
The target for clearing Maternity Allowance claims is 20 days and we expect to clear 4,800 claims within this timescale. Therefore, our normal head of work, which is the amount of claims we expect to have outstanding at any one time, is 4,800 claims. Statistical information regarding Maternity Allowance claims is only available from April 2006. We have provided quarterly data from April 2006 to September 2008.
|Quarter ending||Number of maternity allowance claims outstanding|
Jobcentre Plus Management Information Portal
Clearance times for Maternity Allowance increased slightly this year over the summer months resulting in a backlog of 7,000 cases awaiting action. This was as a result of an increase in births leading to an increase in Maternity Allowance applications by a fifth. This increase also coincided with the centralisation of the administration of Maternity Allowance claims between December 2007 and August 2008 into four Benefit Delivery Centres covering the whole country and a temporary dip in productivity associated with retraining existing members of staff. The backlog has now been cleared and we have returned to our normal head of work.
Information relating to the proportion of Maternity Allowance claims processed within 7, 14, 21, 28, 35, 49 and 63 days is not held.
Statistical information regarding details of staff working on Maternity Allowance claims is only available from April 2006. We have provided quarterly data from April 2006 to June 2008. Data for the second quarter of 2008 is not yet available, however, we have provided the average figure incorporating August 2008 data.
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