The administration of Jobcentre Plus is a matter for the acting chief executive of Jobcentre Plus, Mel Groves. I have asked him to provide the hon. Member with the information requested.
Letter from Mel Groves:
The Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your question asking what her Department's policy is on the provision of accessible seating for elderly and disabled people in Jobcentre Plus offices. This is something that falls within the responsibilities delegated to me as Acting Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus.
The Disability Discrimination Act requires all providers of public services to ensure that services to customers can be accessed by all, whether that is in regard to the physical office environments or by other means. Our departmental policy on provision of services requires us to ensure that both offices and processes do not discriminate against any of our customers-this includes the range of seating components in use in our public offices.
All our components are designed and risk assessed with the full business process in mind, for example taking account of waiting times at any particular stage and considering comfort alongside safety. There is also a range of chairs, which are available for our customers should any individual have a particular problem for example, waiting seating with high or low backs and a height adjustable chair can be offered if necessary. If any of our customers have any real difficulty with accessing services in an office, however, we are always able to offer other options to meet the need, for example home visits or call back arrangements.
Disability access audits were also introduced during the rollout of Jobcentre Plus, to ensure that where physically possible, our offices provided suitable access for all groups, including customers with mobility and sensory impairments.