HC Deb 14 January 2003 vol 397 cc605-6W
Mr. Truswell

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what use his Department and its agencies make of postcode areas for(a) the collection and publication of data, (b) devising formulae for the distribution of grants and awards and (c) the delivery of services; and when such usages were last reviewed. [87741]

Mr. McCartney

The Department makes limited use of postcodes to assist policy development and the delivery of services to our customers.

We do not publish any statistical information by postcode areas in their own right. However, it does use information based on postcodes as a building block to publish statistics on administrative or electoral districts, such as Government Office Regions or Parliamentary Constituencies. All of the department's National Statistics outputs are published on a regular basis and copies are placed in the Libraries of the Houses of Parliament.

Most of the grants and awards made by the Department are distributed on criteria devised at a national level. However, the award Cold Weather Payments is based on local conditions and does use postcodes to define eligible areas.

The delivery of services to our customers has been re-organised following the creation of the Department in 2001. In most cases, the departmental agencies are organised into regions and districts whose boundaries are aligned with Government Office Regions and one or more Local/Unitary Authorities.

Jobcentre Plus customers can access services through their nearest or most convenient Jobcentre Plus Office, Jobcentre or Social Security Office, regardless of their postcode. Postcodes are used to identify customers required to attend a work- focused meeting as the new integrated Jobcentre Plus service is introduced, in areas where ONE pilots operate and in some other parts of the office network.

The Pension Service will comprise of a network of 26 pension centres, supported by a national local service, dedicated to the needs of today's and tomorrow's pensioners. Customers can access services through an 0845 local rate telephone number. Each pension centre handles the work of a defined geographical area aligned to Government Office Regions.

Postcode listings used within the Department are updated each quarter. The use of postcodes to produce information, distribute grants and awards and deliver services in the most efficient manner possible is reviewed on a regular basis.