§ Mr. Lee
There are at present 318 small, part-time benefit offices which are open for between one hour and several mornings each week. In the light of falling unemployment and the smaller number of people now requiring the services of the employment service, we have been considering whether there is still a need to retain all of these. We are, as a result, proposing the closure of 43 part-time offices in areas where demand for their services is low and there is alternative provision. None of the offices concerned is open for more than eight hours a week.
The employment service is keen to offer an effective service to the public, and particularly to people who are unemployed. This can best be achieved in offices which are large enough to offer a comprehensive range of facilities and by postal signing. It is usual when we consider closure of small part-time offices to write to hon. Members in whose constituencies the offices are, to explain the proposals in detail, and I am doing so in this case.