Government pins hopes on new names giving services a lift

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Dedicated help for job hunters and pensioners moved a step closer today as Education and Employment Secretary David Blunkett and Social Security Secretary Alistair Darling announced new names to lead the roll-out of new 'high street' services.

'Jobcentre Plus' will unite the Employment Service with the Benefits Agency's services for people of working age. As such, high streets will see the creation of a single gateway to job hunting and welfare support in all areas across the country.

'The Pension Service' will be the banner under which the Government will roll out a much more focused and streamlined service for both today's and tomorrow's pensioners.

Alistair Darling said today: "Jobcentre Plus and The Pension Service is all about meeting the needs of people and moving towards a much more active welfare state - supporting those in need while providing the confidence and guidance to help those who can get back into work or plan for their retirement.

"The Pension Service will be solely focussed on the needs of today's and tomorrow's pensioners dealing with everything from changes in the law to changes in the leaflets.

"We will make full use of opportunities provided by new technology and for the first time pensioners will get all their benefit help from one single, accessible point - that may be by telephone, post or the internet.

"Similarly, Jobcentre Plus will unite the expertise of our staff in the Benefits Agency with those in Employment Service. With all the services in one place we will bring to high streets across the country help for job hunters while providing the reassurance for people like lone parents that their welfare needs are being catered for."

Mr Blunkett said "Jobcentre Plus will deliver far more than the existing Jobcentre services. Job seekers will still have access to over 400,000 vacancies but they will also get benefit support and advice - that means we will be getting jobs advice to a wider range of people, while helping employers to fill their vacancies.

"The new name highlights the Government's work focus, and the service will help us to provide a clear framework of rights and responsibilities. Before receiving benefit, people will talk to a personal adviser about the job opportunities available; in the past they signed on for benefit before looking for work.

"We will set up the first 50 pathfinder areas around the country in October. These will mark a step change in the service offered to people of working age."

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