HC Deb 02 February 1988 vol 126 cc845-6
11. Mr. Sackville

To ask the Secretary of State for Employment how many job clubs are now open.

Mr. Lee

At 20 January 1988 there were 1,159 job clubs in operation.

Mr. Sackville

Does my hon. Friend share the encouraging impression that I have received in Bolton, where six such schemes are now in operation, that those entering job clubs, who have often lost all hope of obtaining a job, within a few weeks recover the confidence and motivation that they need for success in the job market? How many people have been referred to jobs or training as a direct result of job clubs?

Mr. Lee

I am delighted that my hon. Friend shares the experience that I have found in talking to those in individual job clubs, of which I have visited many throughout Britain. This has been one of our most successful programmes. About 72 per cent. of participants in internal job clubs that we run, and about 62 per cent. of participants in external job clubs, have gone into work or training or on the enterprise allowance scheme—an excellent overall figure.

Mr. Corbett

What contribution does the Minister expect the job clubs to make to getting unemployment down to the level at which it was when the Government took office?

Mr. Lee

The job clubs are playing a part. I gave my hon. Friend. the Member for Bolton, West (Mr. Sackville) percentages, but in terms of absolute numbers about 45,000 people have been through our internal job clubs and nearly 30,000 have been through the external clubs. The percentages of those going to training or work are, as I said, 72 per cent. from the internal job clubs and 62 per cent. from the external ones. That is a substantial contribution.

Mr. Bowis

Does my hon. Friend accept that the job clubs are widely welcomed by all who are looking for work? To what extent can he speed up the establishment of new job clubs? Does he accept that if those seeking higher paid employment could receive assistance to travel to interviews for those jobs, the job clubs would be even more successful than he has said they are?

Mr. Lee

We certainly have some schemes to enable people to travel to interview if they live further than a certain distance from the potential vacancy. Our plan is to increase the number of job clubs from the 1,159 that we now have.

Mr. Pike

Will the Minister accept that job clubs do not create real new jobs, that their achievements are illusory and that they do not get people back into real jobs?

Mr. Lee

They provide a real job for the job club leaders, but, of course the hon. Gentleman is not right. The whole point about job clubs is that they try to bring people who are unemployed into the jobs and vacancies that are available. The figures that I have given to the House are extremely good and show the success of the programme.