HC Deb 19 November 2001 vol 375 c147W
Mr. Willetts

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many Jobcentre Plus pathfinder offices have been subjected to, or threatened with, industrial action; for what reasons industrial action has been taken; and what measures he is taking to resolve this industrial action. [7897]

Mr. Nicholas Brown

49 pathfinders opened as planned on Monday 22 October and staff are enthusiastically providing a full service. In the areas balloted by PCS two-thirds of staff are working. The dispute is over the delivery of welfare benefits to people of working age in a predominantly unscreened environment.

Jobcentre Plus will introduce a radical improvement to customer service based on Personal Advisers working closely with individuals to help them into jobs and to secure the right financial support. This cannot be achieved from behind screens.

The Department remains in discussion with the Public and Commercial Services Union to seek to resolve this dispute in a way which is compatible with the Government's objectives for delivering a modern, personalised and work-focused service in Jobcentre Plus. We are putting in place contingency arrangements to ensure that claimants can continue to receive their benefit.