Julie Marson – 2022 Statement on the DWP Estate

The statement made by Julie Marson, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, in the House of Commons on 20 July 2022.

This Government are committed to helping people back into work, and to support this cross-Government effort, the Department for Work and Pensions has invested in the temporary expansion of its jobcentre network. This has enabled us to deliver for claimants, including through our comprehensive, multibillion-pound Plan for Jobs.

Plan for Jobs has delivered for claimants over the last two years through kickstart, sector-based work academies, job entry targeted support (JETS), Restart and the expansion of our youth hubs. Together, these programmes have helped people get into work and upskill, no matter where they live or the stage of their career.

Recently, our Way To Work scheme achieved the target of getting 500,000 people into work. Since January 31, over 520,000 intensive work search universal credit and jobseekers allowance claimants moved into work during the campaign as we mobilised our workforce and brought employers into jobcentres to see the talent on offer. Latest figures, up to June, show a record high of 29.6 million people are now on payroll in the UK.

Thanks to our Plan for Jobs and the Government’s responsive labour market policy throughout the pandemic, the unemployment level is at a near record low. The Department’s approach “Any Job, Better Job, Career” means work coaches are building on the strength of the labour market with a new focus on progression, helping claimants into better jobs and ensuring they are on a career path that is right for them.

We outlined on 17 March the Department’s strategy which will, over the next 10 years, reshape how, where and when it delivers its back of house services. Over the 10-year period the Department will transition to an estate that is smaller, greener, and better, making DWP more efficient for customers and our employees. By having a smaller footprint, this helps us to be greener. This type of bold modernisation can support efficiencies, create value for money, reduce fraud and error, build resilience and sustainability, and achieve improved customer outcomes and experience. As announced on 17 March, we took advantage of lease breaks in 2023 to improve the future delivery of DWP back of house services.

As part of this 10-year programme, we are now providing an update on another strand of this work, focusing on changes to some of our front of house sites, taking advantage of the lease breaks once again and leaving older lower-quality buildings whilst optimising opportunities presented from some of the temporary jobcentres opened during the pandemic.

We will do this in four ways:

consolidate services in some locations where there is another nearby which offers better accommodation for customers and staff;

look to close older and poorer premises and permanently relocate to the new temporary Jobcentre, making it an established site;

co-locate with key partners;

and in some cases, secure new premises.

The location of the new sites will be as close as possible to the existing offices in order to maintain physical presence in areas and minimise the impact on customers, while providing an improved office environment for customers and staff. This is not about reducing headcount or services offered, and we expect no jobs to be lost.

Details of some of these further site moves have been announced today. Letters are being sent to each MP with an affected site in their constituency explaining what it means for their local jobcentre and their constituents.