DWP is today publishing its proposals for the future of its estate, including Jobcentres and back office sites.
On 31 March 2018 DWP’s PFI PRIME (Private Resource Initiative for the Management of the Estate) contract with Telereal Trillium expires. This 20 year contract covers the majority of DWP’s current property portfolio of over 900 sites. This gives us an opportunity to review which offices we will need in the future, taking account of the increased use of our online services, the impact of Universal Credit and the anticipated demand on our services.
The roll out of Universal Credit and our reforms of Jobcentre Plus have increased the number of interactions claimants now have with us online. For example, eight out of ten claims for Jobseeker’s Allowance are now made online and 99.6% of applicants for Universal Credit full service submitted their claim online.
As a result we only need 80% of the space we currently occupy to continue to deliver our services and make sure that people will always be able to access the support they need to get back to work. Moreover, we are recruiting and expect to have 2,500 more Work Coaches in post by March 2018 compared to today.
For the vast majority of offices there will be no change in location, although the purpose of the building may change. Where we are proposing closing a site we will take all possible precautions to minimise disruption for claimants, and vulnerable people will receive home visits and postal claims.
All of the planned changes will be made in consultation with staff, taking into account the impact on benefit claimants and DWP staff. We will do everything we can to offer staff affected alternative roles and want to avoid any redundancies wherever possible. However we do recognise that in a small number of cases relocation will not be reasonable or achievable for individuals working in our back office functions and exits may be required.
We have already announced proposals for around 93 sites. I am attaching to this statement a full list of our proposals for all of our remaining Jobcentre and back of house sites. There are a small number of sites which we are still negotiating with landlords. I have indicated these on the list and will update the House when I am able to. I will be writing directly to those Honourable members whose constituencies will be affected by the proposed closures or moves of DWP services announced today. I will also be writing to my counterparts in the Scottish and Welsh Governments.
This statement has also been made in the House of Lords