Statement made on 23rd March 2021:
As part of the Government’s ongoing commitment to support claimants back into work, DWP is moving at pace this spring and summer to introduce new Jobcentres, as a direct response to the pandemic.
On top of the 13,500 new Work Coaches who will be in place by the end of this financial year, this expansion of our Jobcentre network will bolster existing capacity, enabling Work Coaches to provide tailored, face-to-face support in a Covid-secure environment. This expansion will drive forward our ambitious £30 billion Plan for Jobs, helping people back into the Labour Market right across the UK.
During the pandemic, DWP successfully pivoted to a more multi-channelled approach, offering more digital support in line with social distancing measures. However, as restrictions ease, it is vital we adapt our services and reintroduce face-to-face support, given that we know how effective this has been for our claimants in the past.
As the economy recovers, we will review the need for these temporary sites on an ongoing basis, to ensure we are continuing to strike the right balance between providing essential services for claimants and delivering value for money for the taxpayer.
This is not about reversing previous decisions on the broader renewal of the DWP estate, rather it is a temporary measure, in direct response to the pressures the pandemic has placed on the Labour Market.
These new sites provide a high quality, modern and digitally enabled environment for both colleagues and customers. As part of our design requirements, we are reducing the environmental impact, for example, by increasing the Energy Performance Certificate rating across sites. This is something DWP is committed to, as part of the programme to review and renew our estates.
The expansion programme will itself create a further 1,500 ancillary jobs when the sites open, as well as construction jobs generated by the work needed to repurpose the buildings and the supply chain to furnish them, boosting local economies and providing crucial support across the country.
The sites being secured are predominantly in major centres. All new sites meet the planning requirements for a Jobcentre, which means they are fully accessible for colleagues and customers, with good transport links.
Leases have already been secured on 80 sites. A list of these sites can be found on gov.uk, and will be continually updated as and when new site leases are agreed.