HC Deb 26 April 2004 vol 420 cc631-2
13. Ann McKechin (Glasgow, Maryhill) (Lab)

If he will make a statement on the operation of Jobcentre Plus in Scotland. [167689]

The Minister for Work (Jane Kennedy)

Every working day, the staff of Jobcentre Plus in Scotland receive around 1,400 vacancies, conduct 3,000 work- focused interviews, help nearly 700 people into jobs, and pay around £10 million in working age benefits. The new deal alone has helped more than 100,000 people into work in Scotland. My compliments go to the staff of Jobcentre Plus for their success.

Ann McKechin

My right hon. Friend will be aware that a new employers' forum has been established in Glasgow to tackle the high level of economic inactivity. May I urge her to meet representatives of it as soon as possible to support its work?

Will my right hon. Friend explain how the roll-out of Jobcentre Plus in Glasgow will benefit the large number of economically inactive people—now estimated to be more than 94,000—to ensure that they can benefit and get into work?

Jane Kennedy

I will of course take up my hon. Friend's invitation to Scotland to meet the employers' forum. I know that the former Minister for Work, my hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock and Loudoun (Mr. Browne), had a date for that in his diary, and as my hon. Friend has personally extended the invitation to me, I shall take it up. I look forward to it.

Through a combination of economic stability and radical labour market reforms, more than 1.75 million more people are now in work than in 1997, and unemployment is at its lowest for nearly 30 years. We are not complacent, however, because there is a lot more to do. That is why the roll-out of Jobcentre Plus is so important. The new services that are being delivered through the integrated offices of Jobcentre Plus are making a radical difference to the experience of people who are looking for work. I am very impressed by the enthusiasm that is being demonstrated by the staff in the new role that they are embarking on in assisting people to find work through t he personal adviser system. It is a massive investment—

Mr. Speaker

Ordor. I will try another Member.

Mr. Ian Davidson (Glasgow, Pollok) (Lab/Co-op)

I welcome the Minister to her new remit. Can she confirm that at the very top of her list of responsibilities to be pursued urgently is the creation of a new job centre for Pollok, which is one of the few constituencies that does not have one? Given that it was about to be named the Des Browne memorial job centre, does she agree that if the name were changed, she should visit the site when she goes to Glasgow?

Jane Kennedy

I apologise, Mr. Speaker, for getting carried away with the good news that is at the core of my new brief.

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his welcome. I am happy to meet him to talk about his suggestions for the location of a new Jobcentre Plus and, if possible, to visit him in his constituency.