HC Deb 20 May 2002 vol 386 cc41-2W
Mr. Joyce

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps he is taking to improve the physical environment of jobcentres. [55496]

Mr. Nicholas Brown

The first 56 Jobcentre Plus pathfinder offices, which are already open, embody an entirely new physical environment. They are predominantly open plan, with substantially improved facilities and technology, providing a much more accessible and personalised service for customers.

We intend to extend this environment progressively to cover the whole of Great Britain over the next four years, starting with a further 225 offices in 2002–03.

33. Vera Baird

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what plans he has to increase the level of personal advice available to unemployed people at jobcentres. [55521]

Mr. Nicholas Brown

Jobcentres now form part of the newly established Jobcentre Plus agency. Jobcentre Plus was launched as a national organisation on 1 April, replacing the Employment Service and the working age functions of the Benefits Agency, and providing services to around five million people. Jobcentre Plus aims to deliver further improvements in customer service throughout its entire network of jobcentres and social security offices.

56 Jobcentre Plus pathfinder offices are already providing the integrated and work-focused service which we will, over time, offer right across the country. We plan to open around 225 more integrated offices by April 2003. As part of this upgrade to the service, everyone of working age who is making a new or repeat claim for benefit in these offices will participate in a work-focused interview with a personal adviser and be offered their continuing support.