HC Deb 08 February 2001 vol 362 cc1059-60
4. Mr. Jim Fitzpatrick (Poplar and Canning Town)

What his latest assessment is of the effectiveness of Employment Service Direct. [147906]

The Minister for Employment, Welfare to Work and Equal Opportunities (Ms Tessa Jowell)

The award-winning Employment Service Direct has demonstrated its effectiveness by placing 130,000 people in work since its introduction in January 1999; up to 231 of those people are in my hon. Friend's constituency. The service's effectiveness is shown by the fact that it has helped us to deliver the lowest unemployment for 25 years.

Mr. Fitzpatrick

I thank the Minister for that answer. I pay tribute to Employment Service staff in east London for the excellent job that they are doing. Will the Minister advise the House how Employment Service Direct fits into the broader proposals for the use of more advanced technology further to improve overall service provision both for employers and for job seekers?

Ms Jowell

I thank my hon. Friend for that question. Employment Service Direct is part of a £400 million programme of modernisation, including worktrain, job banks and 9,000 touch screens in jobcentres, enabling unemployed people throughout the UK to have access to about 400,000 vacancies at any time. That supports the Government's drive to end long-term unemployment. I hope that the Opposition, too, will congratulate the Employment Service on this great effort.

Miss Anne McIntosh (Vale of York)

Has the Minister seen the note from the House of Commons Library, dated 19 January, which concluded that, since the Government came to power, 300,000 jobs have been lost in the manufacturing sector, whereas under the previous Conservative Administration there was a net gain, with the creation of 70,000 jobs? Does she agree that her Government have failed manufacturing industry and those who have lost their jobs in it?

Ms Jowell

I will certainly study the note, but I also remind the House that, during the 18 years of Conservative government, 2.5 million jobs were lost in manufacturing. The scars remain in the parts of the country that were hardest hit. Under the Labour Government, long-term unemployment is at its lowest for a generation.

Ms Rosie Winterton (Doncaster, Central)

My right hon. Friend will be aware that Employment Service Direct in Doncaster is complemented by the pilot jobpoints scheme. Even though the pilot scheme has been running for only three weeks, it is already proving to be extremely successful in helping people to find work. Will my right hon. Friend assure me that an assessment will be made quickly of the effectiveness of jobpoints pilots and that, if their present success continues, a decision will be made quickly to roll them out nationally?

Ms Jowell

I can give my hon. Friend the assurance that jobpoints will be available nationally. Their effectiveness is judged through their success in getting people into work. I visited the Birkenhead scheme on the day it was launched. Job seekers like it. Employers are looking for people to fill vacancies. Jobpoints will get people into work more quickly.

Forward to