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Mr. Andrew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate her Department has made of the number of grandparents who receive income support allowance in respect of their grandchildren. 
Jenny Willott: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions which Jobcentre Plus offices closed in each of the last six years are under consideration for reopening; and if she will make a statement. 
The Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your question asking which Jobcentre Plus offices closed in each of the last six years are under consideration for reopening. This is something that falls within the responsibilities delegated to me as Acting Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus.
I have provided this information at Annex A.
Since April 2002, when Jobcentre Plus was created by the merger of the former Employment Service and Benefits Agency, Jobcentre Plus has continued to refocus and transform the way it delivers its services. These transformation programmes have improved the quality and breadth of customer service, as well as the environment in which it is delivered. Customers no longer have to go to two separate offices-often on the same High Street-to receive help with both benefits and jobsearch. This has allowed us to rationalise our estate to provide excellent High Street coverage and a single, integrated customer facing office, at the same time reducing cost to the tax payer.
Our approach to closure of a customer-facing Jobcentre is one that takes into account a range of issues, for example, the impact closure may have on customer service, and whether the work and staff can be relocated. When we are looking to withdraw our services from a location we are committed to full consultation with our customers, partner organisations, Trade Unions, staff, and local Members of Parliament.
The great majority of our services (in common with most large, modern organisations) are now delivered through the telephone and internet. For example, to give customers more convenient access we have around half-a-million vacancies on-line at any time (our website receives close to one million job searches every working day), and new claims to benefit are predominantly taken by telephone with some taken on-line. However, Jobcentres continue to provide an essential service-especially to those customers most in need of tailored help.
In addition to our network of modernised Jobcentres, we aim to make our services accessible to customers by providing a range of support through outreach, often delivering advisory and other support on Partner's premises. That is particularly important in locations where maintaining a Jobcentre could not be justified. Typically, such services can be delivered in partnership with Children's Centres, or on Local Authority premises, or in conjunction with one of our Welfare to Work Providers.
Jobcentre Plus Customer Service Directors have reviewed their existing service delivery arrangements in meeting the challenge of the current economic climate, taking into account the planned welfare reform changes for the next two to three years. This review took into account the latest known information on the expected increase in business and customer volumes. This exercise has identified that some Jobcentre Plus offices currently face capacity pressures. These pressures will be met through a range of solutions.
We have embarked on a programme of converting or extending our existing buildings where necessary, and widening our network of outreach facilities to make our services more accessible to customers. We are supplementing these measures by operating extended opening hours in some locations where the need for this is identified locally. This includes some offices opening to the public on Saturday.
This programme is primarily focused on those buildings where we provide a face to face service for members of the public, but we are also implementing solutions across our network of Benefit Delivery Centres and Contact Centres to ensure they are equipped to meet any capacity challenge.
The vast majority of sites affected have sufficient internal space which could be made available to enable capacity increases. The work to be carried out is of a temporary nature to ensure Jobcentre Plus has the flexibility to review the estate requirement in future.
We only acquire new temporary space where all other measures are insufficient and Jobcentre Plus presence in these buildings will be clearly badged as temporary facilities. The sites listed in Annex A are being considered for temporary reoccupation because no suitable alternatives exist.
|Annex A: Jobcentre Plus offices previously open to the public and under consideration for temporary reoccupation|
Sandra Gidley: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many Jobcentre Plus staff were employed in the ceremonial county of Hampshire, broken down by smallest possible local authority level in each of the last five years. 
The Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your question asking how many Jobcentre Plus staff were employed in the ceremonial County of Hampshire, broken down by smallest possible local authority level in each region in each of the last five years. This is something that falls within the responsibilities delegated to me as Acting Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus.
Jobcentre Plus structure is not aligned with county or local authority level boundaries. The following table therefore provides the number of Jobcentre Plus full-time equivalents employed in the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Jobcentre Plus geographical boundary. Staffing information broken down to this level is only available back to 2006-07.
|Staff in post in the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Jobcentre Plus geographical boundary, March 2007 to September 2009|
| Source: Jobcentre Plus Resource Management System.|
Mr. Sanders: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what training is provided to Jobcentre Plus staff to ensure autistic service users receive fair access to their services; and what measures are in place to assess the effectiveness of such training. 
The Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your question asking: what training is provided to Jobcentre Plus staff to ensure autistic service users receive fair access to their services; and what measures are in place to assess the effectiveness of such training. This is something which falls within the responsibilities delegated to me as Acting Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus.
Jobcentre Plus is committed to supporting disabled people, including people with autism. To help staff understand and meet the needs of disabled customers, training is provided which promotes a whole team approach. Diversity and Equality Awareness for Excellent Customer Service is part of the foundation learning and provides staff with a general awareness of disability, disability issues and the responsibilities of Jobcentre Plus. It also provides an understanding of specialists such as Disability Employment Advisors, Incapacity Benefit Personal Advisors, Work Psychologists and Access to Work Advisors. This allows staff to access guidance and make appropriate referrals and also ensures customers receive a supportive, streamlined and professional service.
The learning programme for Jobcentre Plus Advisors raises awareness of a customer's personal circumstances and the impact this may have on their ability to move into sustainable employment. Advisors are signposted to guidance which includes background information on a number of conditions, the implications for interviews and how to use questioning techniques in order to support customers. The performance of advisors is measured through the regular completion of the Quality Assessment Framework during interviews. Advisors explore the customer's situation and circumstances as they relate to the world of work, identify any specialist support required and, where appropriate, advocate on behalf of the customer or seek additional support from specialist colleagues or external partners.
All Jobcentres have access to Disability Employment Advisors, who focus on customers who need more extensive support. They receive further training (which includes practice interviewing customers with autism), and can seek help from Work Psychologists to assist them in supporting customers.
The Employers' Forum on Disability has been running telephone tutorials on autism and in order to encourage staff to take advantage of this learning opportunity these events were publicised on the Jobcentre Plus intranet site (the organisation's mainstream communication method). Such training helps staff develop an even greater understanding of autism and the issues related to employment.
Jim Knight [holding answer 9 November 2009]: Jobcentre Plus is equipped to offer advice to everyone who is looking for work. While most people find work relatively quickly and need only a little support from Jobcentre Plus others will require far more help. This is provided through a structured process of regular jobsearch reviews and support from our personal advisers on opportunities to help overcome things that may be making it harder to find work.
As part of this, we have enhanced the package of support provided to people with extra support prior to redundancy, when they are newly unemployed, and at the six and 12 month points of their claim including a subsidy for employers, voluntary work and help to set up a business. For customers facing redundancy we have increased funding for the Rapid Response Service which is delivered in conjunction with partner organisations in Coventry and Warwickshire. This ensures that local resources are clearly targeted and includes areas such as
skills assessments and short training as well as jobsearch programmes to help people move quickly into employment and training.
To coincide with the national launch of "Backing Young Britain" in July this year Jobcentre Plus in Coventry engaged with 25 key local employers, partners and stakeholders to secure their personal commitment to offering jobs, apprenticeships, work trials, work experience, internships and mentoring advice. We have also launched the Future Jobs Fund, worth around £1 billion, which aims to create at least 100,000 new jobs for those aged 18-24 nationally. A further 50,000 jobs will be created in areas of high unemployment and all customers, irrespective of their age, will be eligible.
In Coventry 29 per cent. of jobseeker's allowance customers are aged between 18-24 years old. There have been a wide range of organisations from the public, private and voluntary sectors who have made successful bids. To date approximately 8,000 jobs have been identified in the West Midlands.
In October 2009, we also introduced the flexible new deal. The flexible new deal is delivered by contracted service providers working in partnership with Jobcentre Plus. In Coventry and Warwickshire these are Serco and Pertemps.
Within the 12 months of starting on flexible new deal, jobseekers will undertake a minimum of four weeks of either full-time employment or continuous mandatory full time work-related activity. Jobcentre Plus will deliver early stages of the regime (before customers are referred to a provider), pay benefits and maintain contact with the customer through fortnightly signing. The flexible new deal gives providers the flexibility to deliver a more personalised and tailored service to the individual employment and skills needs of long-term jobseekers.
Jobcentre Plus in Coventry is working closely with a range of employers in both the public and private sectors in securing local employment partnerships (LEPS). LEPs are a key tool in supporting people from disadvantaged communities back into work. Jobcentre Plus work closely with customers, employers and partners to tailor a programme to ensure that individuals are job ready. Coventry city council is one of the leading public sector LEP recruiters and the HSBC processing centre in Coventry recently won the West Midlands 2009 LEP "Unlocking Talent" award.
Steve Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions pursuant to the answer of 26 October 2009, Official Report, column 160W, on jobseeker's allowance: employment schemes, how many and what proportion of people taking part in the work trials in each month secured a job with the same employer. 
Jim Knight: The table repeats the information in the previous reply about participation in work trials, but with columns added to show the number of people who found actual employment with the work trial employer:
|Duration of completed work trials by jobseeker's allowance customers April 2009 to September 2009|
|0-7 days duration||8-21 days duration||22+ days duration|
The totals of the in-month figures are lower than the cumulative number of work trials completed. This is because the in-month figures are a snapshot taken on a particular date in the month, whereas the cumulative total figure reflects subsequent work trials that took place.
BOXI Management Information
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