Jobcentre Estate

Work and Pensions – in the House of Commons on 8th March 2021.

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Photo of Rob Butler Rob Butler Conservative, Aylesbury

What steps her Department is taking to ensure that the jobcentre estate is adequately equipped to support an increased number of jobseekers.

Photo of Selaine Saxby Selaine Saxby Conservative, North Devon

What steps her Department is taking to ensure that the jobcentre estate is adequately equipped to support an increased number of jobseekers.

Photo of Matt Vickers Matt Vickers Conservative, Stockton South

What steps her Department is taking to ensure that the jobcentre estate is adequately equipped to support an increased number of jobseekers.

Photo of Tim Loughton Tim Loughton Conservative, East Worthing and Shoreham

What steps her Department is taking to ensure that the jobcentre estate is adequately equipped to support an increased number of jobseekers.

Photo of Antony Higginbotham Antony Higginbotham Conservative, Burnley

What steps her Department is taking to ensure that the jobcentre estate is adequately equipped to support an increased number of jobseekers.

Photo of Mims Davies Mims Davies The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

As part of our estates expansion and renewal programme, the DWP by summer will have rapidly increased the number of Jobcentre Plus sites, placing them in new locations where they are needed. This will ensure that we bolster our face-to-face support in a covid-safe environment for both our claimants and our additional 13,500 new work coaches. As Members will appreciate, negotiations on some sites are ongoing, and I will update the House further when appropriate to do so. Meanwhile, MPs with a new site opening in their constituency are being notified.

Photo of Rob Butler Rob Butler Conservative, Aylesbury

Sadly, the pandemic has meant that many people in my constituency of Aylesbury have lost their job and, for the first time in decades, find themselves looking for work. How can my hon. Friend ensure that the Jobcentre Plus estate and its staff are equipped to help jobseekers who are in their 50s and 60s, who have paid their taxes and their national insurance for their whole working lives and now need bespoke personal assistance to find a new job and continue to contribute to the economy?

Photo of Mims Davies Mims Davies The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

We are supporting people of all ages back into work in Aylesbury and beyond. The DWP has a network of 50-plus champions throughout our JCPs. These champions work with work coaches and stakeholders to focus help and support for the over-50s, highlighting the benefits of employing them and sharing best practice. Our plan for jobs provides new funding to ensure that everyone, including those 50 and over, get tailored support to build on their skills and move into work.

Photo of Selaine Saxby Selaine Saxby Conservative, North Devon

Many businesses in remote rural communities, as in North Devon, are a long way from a Jobcentre Plus, and therefore would not usually use the jobcentre to advertise vacancies, particularly given poor public transport. What assurances can my hon. Friend give that rural businesses will be actively engaged by Jobcentre Plus, as it is especially important that young people looking for work in such rural communities are able to access local jobs through the kickstart scheme?

Photo of Mims Davies Mims Davies The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

Our JCPs are engaged with local recovery plans, including in rural areas. They are essential to help people of all ages into work and help all communities to thrive. In North Devon, the DWP is funding the youth flow partnership with local businesses and the chambers of commerce to help young people engage with opportunities such as kickstart. I was delighted to join my hon. Friend at her recent event with local businesses in her community to discuss kickstart and how we can tailor those opportunities for every area.

Photo of Matt Vickers Matt Vickers Conservative, Stockton South

In January, the DWP confirmed the lease had been signed on a new Jobcentre Plus in Stockton South. Can the Minister confirm how many work coaches are due to work at the new site and how they will be helping my constituents in Stockton South?

Photo of Mims Davies Mims Davies The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

My hon. Friend will now be aware that we have signed a lease on a new jobcentre in Stockton’s Dunedin House. I am pleased to report that work is now under way on opening to support claimants, which is due by the end of this month. A total of 49 new work coaches have been recruited in my hon. Friend’s constituency to help local jobseekers, and 20 will be based in the new site, along with some of our more experienced work coaches and leadership, to ensure the sharing of best practice and helping people in Stockton to progress.

Photo of Tim Loughton Tim Loughton Conservative, East Worthing and Shoreham

May I pay tribute to Worthing jobcentre, which has been very proactive in dealing with new benefit claimants and will have a lot of extra work, alas, with people who find themselves out of a job because of the pandemic.

Work coaches offer important support to a diverse range of claimants, but self-employed claimants can really benefit from the wisdom of someone who has direct experience of setting up their own business, so what specialist support will be available to UC claimants looking to boost their incomes through self-employment in the future?

Photo of Mims Davies Mims Davies The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

DWP work coaches can refer claimants interested in moving into self-employment to our new enterprise allowance programme, and to other sources of local business advice and support as appropriate. The new enterprise allowance offers participants the important opportunity to develop that business, as my hon. Friend points out, to make that business plan and receive more than a year’s support from a business mentor to make a success of it, in Worthing and beyond.

Photo of Antony Higginbotham Antony Higginbotham Conservative, Burnley

May I start by thanking all the staff at Burnley jobcentre, who are doing an amazing job in supporting people day and night?

As a result of the pandemic, unemployment is increasing in Burnley, impacting on those who find themselves out of work for the first time as well as young people looking to enter the world of work. What steps is the Department taking to support people in Burnley who find themselves in that situation?

Photo of Mims Davies Mims Davies The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

Alongside our plan for jobs, Burnley JCP recently held a virtual careers event for jobseekers, which I know my hon. Friend was brilliantly a part of. In Cumbria and Lancashire we have recruited almost 400 extra work coaches to assist customers, with a further 90 due to join in the next three months. We have also set up a DWP youth hub in partnership with Burnley Borough Council and Calico, and we are working with local employers to provide local kickstart placements such as with the East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust and Stanley Black and Decker.