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The Jobcentre Plus programme rolled out a network of over 800 offices, combining the functions of the former jobcentres and social security offices, and was completed for £314 million less than the original £2.2 billion budget according to a National Audit Office report released today.

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The project was well managed, particularly the procurement aspect, where between £120 million and £140 million worth of savings were made. The project has clear lessons for other public sector procurement programmes.

Most of the offices were rolled out within four years as originally planned, although factors outside the control of the project team meant 80 offices were delivered in an additional fifth year of construction. The NAO has found that whilst this delay had an impact on the speed of improvements to customer services locally, it did not have any major operational or financial affects on the programme.

Operating out of fewer offices has released about 20 per cent of the Jobcentre Plus estate, resulting in an overall saving in running costs of £135 million a year by 2006-07. The total cost so far of disposing of buildings is £42 million, estimated to rise to £56 million once this process is complete. Two thirds of this cost consists of payments to Land Securities Trillium, the PFI contractor which managed the property on behalf of the public sector, to compensate for the reduced number of properties they manage.

Overall, customer satisfaction with the new network is high with the majority (86 per cent) of people who use the new Jobcentre Plus fairly or very satisfied with the results. However, in some others respects the quality of customer service may initially have reduced, particularly for customers unable to reach contact centres by telephone.

“My report recognises the considerable achievement that has been made delivering over 800 centres to a high quality standard, under budget. The project team controlled costs effectively and achieved savings against the budget – for example by introducing better procurement arrangements. There are lessons here for other Government departments undertaking major procurement projects.”

Tim Burr, head of the National Audit Office


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