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In order to ensure that Jobcentre Plus was capable of meeting the challenge of rising caseload volumes as a result of the current economic climate, Customer Service Directors undertook a review of existing services delivery arrangements in each District. This review also took account of planned welfare reform changes for the next two to three years, and the latest known information on the expected increase in business and customer volumes.
This exercise identified a requirement for work in 429 locations to increase capacity for dealing with the higher volumes of customers and to accommodate additional staff. The extent of this work varied from location to location, and we developed a range of solutions to meet additional capacity requirements. We have embarked on a programme of converting or extending our existing buildings where necessary and in the vast majority of sites affected there is sufficient internal space to enable capacity increases by converting under-utilised general office space. In sites where increased capacity is required, the work carried out is reversible and of a temporary nature. Estate modification works have so far been completed in 392 buildings to support meeting the challenge of prevailing economic conditions. The final cost of modification works at these sites is not yet known and will be published in due course.
In order to make our services more accessible to customers we are providing a range of support through outreach, often delivering advisory and other support on partners' premises. 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.
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. Jobcentre Plus have considered re-opening four offices, which were previously open to the public but have been closed in the last six years, for temporary re-occupation. These sites are detailed at Annex A.
These offices in Annex A were previously closed as part of the Jobcentre Plus modernisation programme. In 2002 Jobcentre Plus inherited around 1,500 offices from the merger of the former Benefits Agency and Employment service. At the time of merger the two organisations had many offices which were geographically close to each other, often in the same street. The modernisation programme has modernised our Jobcentre network to improve customer service, rationalising our estate to provide excellent high street coverage and a single, integrated customer facing office, at the same time reducing cost to the taxpayer. We remain the largest office network in Government with 741 modern Jobcentres supported by 31 modern, industry standard contact centres and 79 main benefit processing centres.
The four offices listed in Annex A have now re-opened and are delivering an appointment-only based service to customers. No further offices which have been closed in the last six years are currently under consideration for re-opening. The original lease exit costs of closing the offices are also included in Annex A. The cost of re-occupation is yet to be finalised.
The Jobcentre Plus estate remains under constant review, taking into account prevailing economic conditions and changes in our service delivery planning. The work recently carried out on our buildings, to meet the challenge of increased business and customer volumes, is of a temporary nature. This ensures we retain the ability to cope with the ever changing demands on Jobcentre Plus, without unnecessarily burdening ourselves with permanent, costly estate which we will not need after the economy has recovered.
I hope this information is helpful.
|Jobcentre Plus considered re-opening four offices, which were previously open to the public but have been closed in the last six years, for temporary re-occupation|
|Region||Location||Cost of closure (£)||Now re-opened to the public?|
|(1 )Not known.|
Justine Greening: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people have made a claim for jobseeker's allowance (a) nationally and (b) in each London borough in each of the last 24 months. 
Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) by what mechanisms the effect of a person's occupational or personal pension on their entitlement to contribution-based jobseeker's allowance is calculated; 
(2) whether person's entitlement to contribution-based jobseeker's allowance is means-tested according to the (a) savings and (b) personal or occupational pension income of that (i) person and (ii) their household. 
Helen Goodman [holding answer 4 March 2010]: There are two types of jobseeker's allowance-contribution-based and income-based. Contribution-based jobseeker's allowance is based on how many national insurance contributions have been paid over the last two complete tax years.
Income-based jobseeker's allowance is dependent on income and savings. For contribution-based jobseeker's allowance, personal and household capital and savings are not taken into account when determining entitlement. However, periodic payments of occupational and personal pensions made to the person claiming contribution-based jobseeker's allowance are taken into account. Pension payments made to anyone else within the household are not considered when deciding entitlement.
When assessing the amount of contribution-based jobseeker's allowance that is payable to a person who is in receipt of a personal or occupational pension, the first £50 per week of that pension is disregarded. For each 1 pence over and above the £50 disregard, 1 pence of jobseeker's allowance is deducted. Under the present arrangements contribution-based jobseeker's allowance is only withdrawn completely from those with pension or annuity payments of more than £114.30 per week, based on April 2009 benefit rates.
General guidance on the application and interpretation of jobseeker's allowance rules for our decision makers can be found in the decision makers guide. A copy of the guide is available in the Library and on the Department for Work and Pensions' website at
Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the average duration of a jobseeker's allowance claim was in each local authority area in the South East in each of the last (a) 12 months and (b) five years. 
Willie Rennie: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps her Department has taken to ensure companies may not end defined benefit schemes for their employees without full consultation. 
Angela Eagle [holding answer 9 March 2010]: Employers with 50 or more employees who propose closing a defined benefit occupational pension scheme to new members or to future accrual must consult the affected members of the pension scheme or their representatives for at least 60 days before implementing the change.
Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many of those employed in the (a) public and (b) private sector were active members of an occupational pension scheme in each of the last 10 years. 
|Public sector||Private sector||Total|
1. The 2005 survey did not cover the public sector and a total figure is therefore not available.
2. Due to changes in the definition of the public and private sectors, estimates for 2000 onwards differ from earlier years. From 2000, organisations such as the Post Office and the BBC were reclassified from the public to the private sectors.
3. Changes to the methodology for 2006 onwards mean that comparisons with 2005 and earlier years should be treated with caution.
Occupational Pension Schemes Survey
Mr. MacNeil: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people were in receipt of jobseeker's allowance in Na h-Eileanan an Iar constituency in the latest period for which figures are available; and what the average weekly payment made in such benefit was in that constituency in that period. 
|Number of cases in payment and average weekly payment of jobseeker's allowance in the Na h-Eileanan an Iar constituency in August 2009|
1. Benefit recipients are rounded to the nearest 10.
2. Average weekly amounts are rounded to the nearest penny
3. All data refers to benefit recipients and will therefore exclude credits only and nil payment cases
4. Figures include number of cases in payment to couples and civil partnerships.
Department for Work and Pensions Information Directorate: Work and Pensions Longitudinal Study.
Mr. Stephen O'Brien: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions for what reasons vulnerable adults will only have continued support if they sign the data transfer form; and what advice she has taken on the compatibility of this practice with (a) the Human Rights Act 1998 and (b) other anti-discrimination legislation. 
Jonathan Shaw: The Work Choice programme guarantees a place for every WORKSTEP customer who chooses to transfer when the new programme commences in October 2010. We will work closely with all WORKSTEP customers to ensure they feel able to give their consent to give the incoming provider the information they need to be able to put the right support in place.
Before Work Choice begins in October the new prime providers will not only have to undertake all the usual activities to set up and prepare their business but will also be under a contractual obligation to understand the often complex employment support needs of up to 14,000 current WORKSTEP customers that will transfer to them.
To enable them to do this, Department for Work and Pensions officials have developed a process to transfer only the necessary minimum customer data from existing providers to incoming prime providers. The process and a supporting data transfer form have been developed in consultation with existing providers, bidders, the Department for Work and Pensions Provision Forum Work Choice Sub-group and the British Association for Supported Employment.
The critical part of the process is for the customer to give their informed consent. They will be invited to do so by their current provider and will be advised that they can withdraw their consent at any time up to 14 days later.
We expect the great majority of customers to give their consent. But any customers who express doubt about whether or not they should give their consent will be able to speak to a Disability Employment Adviser in Jobcentre Plus. If the customer is not reassured by, or if they do not wish to speak with the adviser, they will still be able to move to Work Choice.
In those exceptional cases the current and future providers will agree a convenient time and place where the new provider can discuss with the customer the personal information that the new provider needs to effectively support the customer and to administer the programme.
At all stages during the development of the data transfer process, the Work Choice project has been advised by solicitors in the Department's Legal Group to ensure that the process is compliant with all relevant legislation.
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