HC Deb 12 February 2004 vol 417 cc1601-2W
Mr. Hancock

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) what definition of the term "merger dividend" he uses in relation to the setting up of Jobcentre Plus, with particular regard to the Hampshire and Isle of Wight district; [151608]

(2) what merger dividend is to be gained from the organisational changes to his Department in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight. [152148]

Mr. Browne

The Department for Work and Pensions was created in April 2001 from a merger of the former Department of Social Security and parts of the Department for Education and Employment. One of our key priorities is to make the best possible use of taxpayers' money. Around 1,100 Jobcentres and 400 social security offices inherited from the former Benefits Agency and Employment Service are being replaced with a network of around 1,000 integrated Jobcentre Plus offices. By bringing together two organisations we can derive a merger dividend because it is possible to upgrade services and teams such as HR, Finance and Management Support.

Moreover, The Jobcentre Plus service brings job-finding and benefit services together under one roof. These new integrated offices will eventually replace all the existing Jobcentres and social security offices and this process will enable us to rationalise our estate by closing offices that are unsuitable for delivering the new service or where there are two offices covering the same area. For example in Hampshire, Liphook Office has been closed and a new office opened in Bordon. Hon. Members in Hampshire were consulted in the service delivery plans for the district in September 2002.

The Pension Service is delivering a centralised service to pensioners supported by a local service and is closing its presence within sites shared with other parts of the organisation as work is migrated to pension centres.