Alistair Darling, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, has announced that two major new services would replace the Benefits Agency and the Employment Service from April.
Jobcentre Plus will provide a new approach to help get people into jobs, or improve their prospects for work in the future. It will deliver a single, integrated and work-focused service to benefit claimants of working age and to employers.
The Pension Service will provide a dedicated service for today’s pensioners, whether they deal with us by telephone, through the internet, by post, or face to face. It will also improve services to future pensioners, by providing accurate information to help them make decisions about saving for their retirement.
Alistair Darling said: “These changes represent the most comprehensive shake-up of welfare delivery for a generation with a clear focus on individual needs. Modernising the delivery of welfare services will not happen overnight. Members of the public should continue to use their local Jobcentre and social security office until their new Jobcentre Plus arrives over the next few years. However the creation of the new services is a significant step in focusing on the future.”
From April Jobcentre Plus will replace the Benefits Agency and Employment Service to form a single service to help the jobless into work and provide work and benefits advice.
Fifty six pathfinder offices have been operating since last October and over the next 12 months the service will be rolled out to cover a quarter of the entire office network.
Other targets include the reduction of losses from fraud and error in payment of Income Support and Jobseeker’s Allowance, and a target of 85% of employers placing their vacancies with Jobcentre Plus to be filled.
The Pension Service will provide a dedicated service for today’s and tomorrow’s pensioners and will play a crucial role in tackling pensioner poverty and encouraging saving for retirement. From April it will replace the existing Benefits Agency services for pensioners, and will be working to introduce a better service tailored to the needs of pensioners. It will operate through a national network of pension centres, delivering a primarily telephone-based service. Alongside this there will be a locally based service with staff dedicated to pensioners and pensioner issues which also provide outreach activity working in partnership with local authorities and voluntary organisations.