§ Miss McIntosh
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps he plans to take to improve access to jobcentres in rural areas under the new deal arrangements. 
§ Mr. Nicholas Brown
The administration of Jobcentre Plus is a matter for the chief executive, Leigh Lewis. I have asked him to reply to the hon. Member.
Letter from Leigh Lewis to Miss Anne McIntosh, dated May 2002:As Jobcentre Plus is an Executive Agency, the Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your question concerning the steps to be taken to improve access to jobcentres in rural areas under the New Deal arrangements. This is something which falls within the responsibilities delegated to me as Chief Executive of the Agency.Jobcentre Plus understands the difficulties that people living in rural areas can face, both in securing employment and gaining access to our services. Staff in rural jobcentres work with clients on an individual basis to explore ways to overcome these problems and will often give advice on either jobsearch or benefits over the telephone. They can offer also postal signing arrangements where that is permissible.We have also introduced new services which should be particularly useful for our customers in rural areas. "Jobseeker Direct" — on 0845 6060234 — is a telephone jobfinding service available to both unemployed and employed people. They can also look for jobs and learning opportunities on the internet, with our two websites www.jobcentreplus.gov.uk and www.worktrain.gov.uk.I hope this is helpful.