HC Deb 09 December 1980 vol 995 cc772-3
4. Mr. Campbell-Savours

asked the Secretary of State for Employment whether he will increase the materials allowance under the short-term employment programme and the youth opportunities programme in the European Coal and Steel Community assisted areas and the development and special development areas; and whether he will bring forward measures to reduce the period before eligibility for such schemes, in such areas.

Mr. Jim Lester

I am informed that the Manpower Services Commission intends to increase from £300 to £400 across the board the per capita materials allowance of the youth opportunities programme from 1 April 1981. The materials allowance of the new community enterprise programme will also be £400, which is £100 more than the allowance available under the special temporary employment programme, which it will replace from 1 April 1981. The six-week rule for entry to the youth opportunities programme will be retained but will be further relaxed for young people in special need.

Mr. Campbell-Savours

Does the Minister accept that increasing the material allowances in the DAs, SDAs and ECSC assisted areas will act as a considerable incentive to local authorities to set up special units to help people enter the special temporary employment programme? Does he further accept that, by bringing forward the date of eligibility for STEP, local authorities will be enabled to use the EEC-based readaptations payment scheme, which is available in areas where there have been steel industry closures, to draw people into their schemes from the steel industry?

Mr. Lester

One is always looking at ways of getting one's hands on European money. However, to try to differentiate the allowances to target them to SDAs, DAs and so on is not helpful. Under existing schemes, they are targeted in a number of places. Over half the places available are already in such areas, which means that the cumulative money available is very much higher. The schemes operate nation-wide to deal with areas that have unemployment equally as Lad as in the SDAs, although that is often concealed in the figures. It is, therefore, not possible to pursue the policy that the hon. Gentleman puts forward to benefit his constituents.