HC Deb 03 February 1995 vol 253 cc912-3W
Mr. Kaufman

To ask the Secretary of State for Employment if he will set out for each of the next steps agencies in his Department, whether they have acquired their own headquarters buildings and, if so, at what purchase cost or annual rental; how many support staff they have required which were not required when their operations were within his Department; how many of them publish periodical journals and at what annual cost; how many have fleets of executive cars or single executive cars and at what annual cost; how many have specially designed logos and at what cost; how many have corporate clothing and at what cost; and what is the cost of specially designed and printed corporate stationery.

Miss Widdecombe

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has asked the chief executive of the Employment Service to write with a detailed response on these particular matters. More generally, the record shows that, making allowance for work load changes, there has been a continuing real-terms reduction in the ES's running costs since it became an agency, while its performance levels and impact on the labour market have increased. These are clear benefits arising from its management as an agency which have been combined with a real-terms fall in the Department's own running costs.

A recent evaluation of ES concluded that the establishment of ES as an executive agency had created a performance-driven organisation, clearly focused on achievement of its key objectives. The agency's performance against targets has improved significantly since its creation. For example, annual efficiency savings have risen from £13.6 million to £21.2 million over the period 1990–94 and the proportion of long-term unemployed people placed into jobs has increased from 14.9 per cent. to 28.2 per cent. over the same period. I will send the right hon. Member a copy of the report, a copy of which is also available in the Library.

Letter from M.E.G. Fogden to Mr. Gerald Kaufman, dated 3 February 1995: The Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your question about certain specific costs incurred by the Employment Service (ES) since it was established as a Next Steps Agency. The ES Head Office is spread across eleven small to medium buildings, utilising property previously leased to the Department of Employment (ED) or Property Services Agency/Property Holdings. Each building is occupied under a commercial lease negotiated to meet changing operational requirements. Total rental costs are currently £3.7 million, with planned reductions of at least 10% being achieved by the end of the 1995/96 financial year. Following the establishment of ES, support staff (security, messengers and typing services) continued to be managed by the Manpower Services Commission (now ED). In April 1991 ES took responsibility for their own Head Office support grade staff, with the exception of those based in London. This involved the pro rata transfer of 42 employees from ED. The number now employed in the support area has reduced to 36. The ES does not publish periodical journals for external audiences. Although the ES has no executive cars, we do have approximately 1800 vehicles which are used by individuals or groups of ES employees in order to achieve savings over alternative methods of transport. The ES utilises the logo developed by the ED and as such does not incur any design costs. In addition, the ES does not use any specially designed corporate stationery. In an effort to present a professional appearance and assist the public in identifying ES staff in open plan offices, a corporate tie or neck scarf is made available to employees. The cost of setting up this initiative in 1991 was £125,000. Ongoing costs relating primarily to staff turnover and wear and tear amount to £15,000 pa. I hope this is helpful.

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