HC Deb 07 June 2004 vol 422 cc14-5
10. Mr. Tam Dalyell (Linlithgow) (Lab)

Pursuant to his oral answer of 26 April 2004, Official Report, columns 631–32W, on Jobcentre Plus (Scotland), how much has been invested in Jobcentre Plus in Scotland in the most recent convenient period. [177320]

The Minister for Work (Jane Kennedy)

In Scotland in the last financial year, £48.8 million was invested in welfare-to-work programmes and more than £31 million in the roll-out of new Jobcentre Plus offices and new contact centres. Forty-five of the new Jobcentre Plus offices are now open in Scotland, including the Bathgate office in my hon. Friend's constituency.

Mr. Dalyell

How successful has Jobcentre Plus been in bringing the hitherto economically inactive back into productive work?

Jane Kennedy

Nationally, more than 276,000 people have been helped into work through the new deals for lone parents and disabled people, who are some of our hardest to help customers. In Scotland, the new deal for lone parents has assisted 26,780 people back into work since its introduction in 1998.

Mr. John McFall (Dumbarton) (Lab/Co-op)

The question for my right hon. Friend the Minister is whether that investment has been worth while. In the review of district structure, the new Highlands. Islands and Clyde coast district includes Dumbarton. The new headquarters for that district is 182 miles away in Inverness. Kevin Doran, the director for Scotland, has confirmed in a letter to me that the new structure is about economies of scale, but I would like reassurance from my right hon. Friend that it is also about efficiency, convenient access and customer care. Can I have such guarantees on behalf of my constituents?

Jane Kennedy

The development of Jobcentre Plus is about building on the high quality service already provided by social security offices and jobcentres by delivering a single integrated service to all people of working age, with a clear focus on work. It is about delivering more flexibility to the staff who are in the closest contact with my hon. Friend's constituents. I undertake to ensure that we continue to work with Jobcentre Plus to keep assistance to customers and customer service at the forefront of our targets.