To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions
(1) how many local drug jobcentre co-ordinators his Department plans to employ; and what percentage of Jobcentre Plus offices will have a dedicated local drug jobcentre co-ordinator by October 2009;
(2) at what Civil Service payband local drug jobcentre co-ordinators will be employed; and if he will place in the Library a copy of the job specification for this role.
The administration of Jobcentre Plus is a matter for the acting chief executive of Jobcentre Plus, Mel Groves. I have asked him to provide my hon. Friend with the information requested.
Letter from Mel Groves:
The Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your questions about Jobcentre Plus Drug Co-ordinators including how many will be employed; what percentage of Jobcentre Plus offices they will cover; which grade they will be; and whether a job specification can be made available. This is something that falls within the responsibilities delegated to me as acting chief executive of Jobcentre Plus.
The introduction of Drug Co-ordinators is a joint initiative between Jobcentre Plus, the Department of Health (DH) and the National Treatment Agency (NTA) which has been put in place to support the National Drugs Strategy "Drugs-Protecting Families and Communities". As part of this, the DH has put £9 million into funding the posts from 2009-2011.
As responsibility for health is a devolved matter in Scotland and Wales, the DH can only fund Drug Co-ordinators in England, however, we will continue to work with officials in Scotland and Wales to try to ensure customers in these countries will have similar provision in the future.
We are currently recruiting to fill 63 Drug Co-ordinator posts at Band D (HEO) level. We will have at least one Drug Co-ordinator in place within each of our districts in England and they will be further supported by one of nine Strategic Lead posts (filled at Band F/Grade 7) which will be based within their region.
The decision to put in place district-based Drug Co-ordinators was based on research carried out by Glasgow University in 2006. The research provided information about the number of known problem drug users in specific geographical areas.
We already have eight Drug Co-ordinators in post, and expect that a further 52 will be in place by the end of March, with the remaining three posts being filled during April. We expect that well before October, all of the posts will have been filled and we will have a dedicated Drug Co-ordinator in post within every Jobcentre Plus district in England.
Whilst the Drug Co-ordinator posts are based at district level, part of their job is to ensure that customer-facing advisers within their district are aware of the help and support that we will be able to offer customers.
This means that a customer attending any Jobcentre Plus office in England who declares they are a problem drug user, will be offered a referral to a discussion with a treatment provider.