§ Mr. Ashley
asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will extend the job release scheme to unemployed disabled people within five years of retirement age who have been registered with his Department for at least five years; what is his estimate of what the net cost of this proposal would be; what is his estimate of the net cost if it were extended to cover those within 10 years of retirement age; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Jim Lester
No. Such an extension would not further the main purpose 303W of the scheme, which is to release jobs for the unemployed. I regret that information is not available to enable a reliable estimate to be made of the cost of the hon. Member's proposal. However, on the basis of the numbers registered as unemployed for over three years, it is estimated that the net cost of including disabled people within five years and 10 years of retirement age would be £4 million to £5 million a year and £8 million to £9 million a year, respectively.