Jobcentre Plus will recruit up to 4,000 more frontline staff by 2011 in response to a surge in demand, Personnel Today has learned.
A spokeswoman at the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) confirmed that the government has finished hiring the 6,000 extra frontline staff that work and pensions secretary James Purnell forecast in November last year would be needed to meet the demand in dealing with benefits claimants, and said the department has been given the go-ahead to recruit as many as 4,000 more new frontline positions over the next 18 months.
However, she was unable to confirm whether the new recruits would be transferred from within the department or other areas of the civil service, or whether the jobs would be advertised externally.
“Jobcentre plus has recruited over 6,000 new frontline staff, [and] the recent Budget announced more funding to support further frontline staff increases,” she told Personnel Today.
In Februrary this year the department admitted that 3,000 of the extra staff hired for Jobcentres had come from outside the DWP, despite news that it was axing 12,000 staff by 2011 to make efficiency savings.
Meanwhile, the latest unemployment data from the Office for National Statistics, published last month, revealed that unemployment increased by 177,000 in the three months to February to reach 2.1 million. The claimant count was 1.46 million, up 73,700 from the previous month.