HC Deb 18 March 1986 vol 94 c157
13. Mr. Holt

asked the Paymaster General if there are any indications of the effect of in-depth counselling sessions on the employment opportunites of the long-term unemployed.

Mr. Kenneth Clarke

On 6 January 1986 we established a scheme in nine pilot areas to find out whether the long-term unemployed would benefit from individual help and advice. Of those seen, 80 per cent. have been submitted to a job or to other employment or training opportunities, which should enhance their employment prospects.

Mr. Holt

I am grateful to my right hon. and learned Friend for that reply, which is most encouraging. Will he extend that policy to new areas, including my constituency? When he is doing so, will he consider the great problems of relocation for many people who can find jobs but for whom moving to a new house in another area is impossible?

Mr. Clarke

We have always said that we would draw such lessons as we could from our scheme in the nine pilot areas as quickly as possible. I take on board my hon. Friend's second point. A great difficulty faces people who leave areas such as his when they find employment in the south-east and have to find a home. I appreciate all the work that my hon. Friend has put in to assist his constituents.

Ms. Clare Short

Does the Minister understand that the cause of unemployment is not the inadequacy of the unemployed in applying for jobs? Does he agree that if the Government continue with these schemes we shall have the most sophisticated unemployed job applicants in western Europe? What we need is a change of economic strategy to provide real jobs at decent wages so that people can make a contribution to society. None of the Government's schemes will help.

Mr. Clarke

The hon. Lady ignores the fact that a rapidly increasing number of new jobs are being created in the economy and that there is a rapid increase in the number of vacancies being notified to jobcentres and remaining unfilled. One problem that the long-term unemployed often face, particularly in the more prosperous cities, is that they remain unemployed in a city where plenty of good jobs are available because they lack the skills. That is what we are trying to remedy.