Hull Official Receiver’S Office

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 8:52 pm on 13th May 2014.

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Photo of Jennifer Willott Jennifer Willott The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Women and Equalities, Assistant Whip (HM Treasury), The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills 8:52 pm, 13th May 2014

At the meeting last week we also pointed out that it is not physically possible to fit all the employees from the Leeds office into the Hull office, so we would need to find a new office in Hull and bear all the costs of refurbishing that. That option was looked at in detail, but it simply was not a financially viable alternative.

The business case took into account that not all the staff would wish to move from Hull to Leeds, although the hon. Lady said that it did not. The estimate was that about half would move and half would take voluntary redundancy. The costs associated with that were built into the business case for both scenarios. The Insolvency Service board considered that the business case for moving from Hull to Leeds was persuasive. Those employees who wish to relocate will have a job in the Leeds office, and the Insolvency Service will pay excess fares for three years. The Insolvency Service has been having one-to-one meetings with its employees as well as keeping closely in touch with their representatives about the implications of the relocation and the impact on individuals. For those who do not want to move office, the option of voluntary redundancy is available, but that is clearly the last resort for most people.

The hon. Lady also raised concerns about employment in the Hull area. I reiterate the Government’s commitment to supporting the Hull area. This issue was raised in Deputy Prime Minister’s questions earlier, and it is a real commitment on the part of the Government. The Humber local enterprise partnership predicts that the city deal for Hull and Humber will deliver more than 4,000 jobs in offshore wind-related industries; at least 1,100 unemployed young people supported into work; 3,400 construction jobs; an expected £460 million of private sector development on the Humber; engagement with more than 3,000 businesses; and the provision of extensive support to 500 businesses, creating approximately 400 jobs. Significant effort and work are therefore going into the area, and the Government are committed to ensuring that we invest in other regions of the UK, and that we are not focused centrally on London and the south-east.

In conclusion, I appreciate that this is a very difficult time for the Insolvency Service and its employees. I hope that the hon. Lady is reassured that the Insolvency Service is aware of the issues that she has raised, that her questions have been considered and that the service is supporting affected employees during the transition period.

The Insolvency Service wants to maintain and improve its already high levels of service delivery. It is making its services more efficient to improve returns to creditors. I appreciate that this is a challenging time for staff, but I congratulate them on maintaining high levels of performance throughout a very difficult programme of change. I hope that I have reassured the hon. Lady that the proposal has been well thought through, that the alternatives have been considered, and that staff and trade unions have been involved and consulted throughout.

Question put and agreed to.

House adjourned.