HC Deb 28 July 1997 vol 299 cc15-6
14. Mr. Truswell

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what plans she has for getting the long-term unemployed off social security benefits and into work. [9041]

Mr. Field

By the middle of next year, the Government will bring on stream two policies aimed at helping the long-term unemployed back to work. There will be a job subsidy for that group. In addition, those wishing to participate in up-to-year-long education courses that are related to their work aspirations will be allowed to do so.

Mr. Truswell

I thank my right hon. Friend for that response. What work is his Department doing in conjunction with other Departments to ensure access to high-quality—I stress, high-quality—employment opportunities for my constituents and to move away from the rag bag of often Mickey Mouse schemes to which they were subjected by the Conservatives?

Mr. Field

The Government's intent is clear: we are aiming for high-quality employment opportunities. If people gain opportunities in the private sector, the chances of their long-term employment prospects being enhanced are greater and that is where much of our effort will go.

Mr. Willetts

Does the Minister agree that one way of helping people into work is through family credit, which is paid as a benefit, often to the mother? Does he also agree that that contrasts with tax allowances or the earned income tax credit, which are payable to a person in work, often the father? Does the right hon. Gentleman recall his strong arguments when he was in opposition in favour of giving the benefit to the mother rather than the tax allowance to the father? Is that still his view?

Mr. Field

Given the views of the hon. Gentleman, clearly when one sinner repents, there is great delight in heaven; when two repent, goodness knows the extent of the enjoyment there.