HC Deb 08 February 2001 vol 362 cc1051-2
1. Mr. John Healey (Wentworth)

If he will make a statement on his Department's contribution to the new deal for lone parents. [147903]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education and Employment Ms Margaret Hodge)

The new deal for lone parents is the joint responsibility of our Department and the Department of Social Security and is operated through the Employment Service. New deal personal advisers offer a comprehensive package of advice and support to lone parents on income support and have helped 78,000 lone parents into work since the start of the programme in 1997.

Mr. Healey

I thank my hon. Friend. Is she aware that in the Rotherham and Barnsley district, 289 lone parents have moved into work in the past nine months, which is 55 per cent. of those participating in the programme, compared with the national average of 35 per cent? Will she pay tribute to the quality of our personal advisers, the rapport that they strike with their clients and their knowledge of the local labour market? Does she recognise that one other factor in our success rate is that the background of the personal adviser team covers the Child Support Agency, the Benefits Agency and the Employment Service? Will she reassure me that that will continue when the personal adviser meetings become mandatory for income support claimants after 30 April?

Ms Hodge

I was aware of the figures in my hon. Friend's constituency and I congratulate the personal advisers in his employment team who have been so successful in putting so many people into work. Personal advisers are playing a crucial role in building confidence among lone parents and in helping them to break down the barriers that have prevented them from moving from unemployment into work. I can assure my hon. Friend that we will continue to recruit personal advisers from the wide spectrum to which he referred.