The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is establishing a new city centre base inside the City Council’s headquarters, in a move to improve customer service and save public money.
The ground floor atrium space of the council’s Loxley House offices is due to be occupied by members of staff from the DWP’s Station Street Job Centre from August 24.
The co-location of public services is seen by Government as a crucial way of improving customer experience, embracing the DWP’s vision for 2020. The City Council began its own consolidation of services in 2010 when it moved staff from six old, unsuitable and expensive city centre buildings into the cost-effective, modern, accessible and energy-efficient office accommodation at Loxley House.
Since then, Nottingham City Homes (NCH) has also moved from outdated premises into Loxley House, along with East Midlands Shared Services, the joint finance, payroll and human resources function between Leicestershire County Council and Nottingham City Council.
The moves have helped to make savings and improve efficiency, with decisions and actions taken more quickly while reducing time lost through staff and citizens moving between different buildings.
Now the approach is being taken a step further with the introduction of DWP into the building. Up to 30 staff dealing with around 3,000 citizens will initially move to Loxley House, with a view to developing the arrangements over the next six to 12 months into a one-stop service for those seeking benefits whether administered by central or local government.
Changes to the ground floor of Loxley House to accommodate DWP have involved improvements to the council’s reception area, establishing a DWP reception desk and opening up more of the building to the public, including the café. This will be developed to become a customer service area, with a ‘digital zone’ where DWP, NCH and City Council customers will be able to get online for job searches or to access services.
Portfolio Holder for Jobs, Growth and Transport, Councillor Nick McDonald, said: “We are continually looking for ways to reduce the cost of our office accommodation and make better use of our assets. We’ve already achieved a lot by closing old buildings and relocating staff to Loxley House, which provides on-going revenue savings, as well as income from the sale of former offices.
“I’m pleased we’re taking this one step further with DWP’s move to the building. This makes sense not just in terms of efficiency and savings, but also from a customer perspective. We already work very closely with the DWP on a number of successful initiatives to help local people find jobs and apprenticeships and this new arrangement can only help us work together even more effectively.”
DWP’s District Manager Graham Sheppard said: “Our key aim is to work collaboratively to support people lifting themselves out of poverty, helping them to get a job and securing children’s futures.
“Co-location is an approach being taken wherever possible by DWP to provide exemplar services while protecting the public purse. We are looking forward to working alongside colleagues from the City Council and NCH and believe this will be very beneficial for local citizens and future-proof a ’one service’ environment.”
Councillor McDonald, right, is seen with Graham Sheppard inside the new DWP base at Loxley House.