HC Deb 12 January 2004 vol 416 c525
12. Mr. Henry Bellingham (North-West Norfolk) (Con)

When he next expects to meet representatives of staff in his Department's East Anglia offices to discuss restructuring plans. [146793]

The Minister for Work (Mr. Desmond Browne)

Jobcentre Plus and the Pension Service are modernising the services that we provide to our customers, including those in the hon. Gentleman's constituency. They are providing improved customer access through telephone centres, the internet and new, dedicated caller offices—[Interruption.]

Mr. Speaker

Order. The hon. Member for North Wiltshire (Mr. Gray) should not be reading a book in the Chamber.

Mr. James Gray (North Wiltshire) (Con)

Sorry, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Browne

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Ministerial colleagues and I meet the Department's trade union representatives from time to time. Managers and union representatives at all levels meet routinely to discuss the development of the new services.

Mr. Bellingham

I thank the Minister for that reply, but it was a slightly complacent one. Is he aware that the roll-out of Jobcentre Plus in my constituency has led to many changes, with the co-location of the social security and jobcentre functions at Lovell House? Furthermore, many staff have been relocated to jobcentres elsewhere, which has led to a great deal of disruption and stress to individuals. Morale is proving difficult to manage, yet local management are doing their level best to keep up morale. What will he do to try to help with that process?

Mr. Browne

The development of Jobcentre Plus in the hon. Gentleman's constituency is, of course, part of a significant investment in that service. He is right that in King's Lynn the customer-facing services, as they are known, are being brought to one site—Lovell House—which is just round the corner from the Priory House social security office, which will continue to employ a significant number of people processing benefit applications. Of course, there will be no redundancies in his constituency as a consequence of that.

The hon. Gentleman accuses me of complacency. To my knowledge the local management have offered him two opportunities to go and discuss these issues with them, and he has been unable to keep either appointment.

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