§ Mr. Kirkwood
To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will publish the criteria used in deciding(a) to relocate offices of his Department and (b) where to relocate offices.
§ Mrs. Gillian Shephard
[holding answer 21 February 1990]: The decision to relocate some processing work from 21 inner London local social security offices to three social security centres in Glasgow, Makerfield and Belfast was announced to the House by the former Secretary of State on 16 January 1989 at columns 46–47. None of the 21 local offices is to be closed and the whole project is driven by our desire to improve the quality of our service to our customers.
The local offices were selected using the systematic application of the following criteria:
- where the service to the public was most likely to be improved
- where staff recruitment or retention problems were particularly severe
- where working conditions for staff were poor
- which combination of offices would produce a sensible pattern of service on the ground.
The selection of the locations for the three social security centres was the result of the systematic analysis of the 335 travel-to-work areas in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, against the following criteria:
- a work force big enough to sustain 500 clerical jobs;
- good educational standards;
- assisted area status;
- recent Department of Social Security experience that recruitment and retention was good;
- availability of suitable buildings or sites suitable for a fast build;
- where we could make the best contribution to offering alternative posts to our staff who would otherwise be surplus to requirements when our computerisation programme is complete.