HC Deb 24 June 1986 vol 100 cc170-1
9. Mr. Michael Forsyth

asked the Paymaster General what proportion of those registered as unemployed find work within the first six months; and if he will give details of the assistance being given by his Department to the long-term unemployed.

Mr. Lang

In 1985 around two thirds of those becoming unemployed left the unemployment count within six months. Under our restart programme everyone who has been unemployed for more than a year will now be contacted with an offer of positive help towards employment.

Mr. Forsyth

Will my hon. Friend confirm that, while we may tend to think of the unemployed as a static and unchanging group, 25 per cent. find jobs within four weeks, and 36 per cent. within six weeks, while half of them do so within three months and 82 per cent. find jobs within a year? Are we not therefore forced to the conclusion that among the long-term unemployed there must be at least an element that constitutes the black economy? Will my hon. Friend tell us the result of the pilot scheme that was carried out on the long-term unemployed in selected areas?

Mr. Lang

My hon. Friend is right in the facts that he gave to the House. With regard to restart pilot schemes, the fact that we have decided to extend them nationally speaks for itself. The House might also be interested to know that as a result of the trends to which my hon. Friend has referred about 30,000 people in this country get a job every working day.

Mr. Ashley

Is the Minister aware that the assistance given to the long-term unemployed is hopelessly inadequate and that this probably reflects the Government's real attitude toward them, as distinct from the rhetoric of the Secretary of State? Although this assistance should be increased, is he aware that the real hope to be given to them is to provide them with the prospects of jobs? What is the Minister doing about that?

Mr. Lang

The right hon. Gentleman is wrong. May I refer him to our community programme, which is our main programme for the unemployed. It is being doubled in size. With regard to our restart programme, it is extending nationally and more than 90 per cent. of those interviewed have been given a positive offer towards employment. That demonstrates our commitment to the long-term unemployed.

Mr. Lord

I congratulate my hon. Friend on the restart programme, which will do everything possible to help the long-term unemployed. Because of the great interest that it has aroused, may I ask the Minister to publish the results of the scheme as quickly and as widely as possible?

Mr. Lang

I will do what I can to assist my hon. Friend. It is probably too soon to give a complete summary of the effect of the scheme so far. Suffice it to say that it is the most substantial effort that has ever been made in this country to help long-term unemployed people, who will benefit considerably from the schemes.

Mr. Prescott

Can the Minister help the House in the confusion over some of his replies? In an earlier answer he said that about 16 per cent. of those on job restart schemes had been offered something. The Minister has also mentioned the figure of 90 per cent. The Paymaster General, in a speech to the Institute of Directors, said that of all those on restart programmes, 90 per cent. are offered jobs. This does not seem to be borne out by the facts. Is this not another example of rhetoric racing ahead of the facts?

Mr. Lang

I must repeat to the hon. Gentleman that more than 90 per cent. of those who have been interviewed so far have been given some sort of offer under the restart programme. This can cover a wide range of activities, including a place on the community programme, or a training programme. In Crawley, which was one of the pilot areas, the hon. Gentleman might like to know that a third of those who were interviewed were offered a job vacancy.

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