HL Deb 20 May 1986 vol 475 cc286-7WA
Lord O'Hagan

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether the "travel to work" area provides the best basis for identifying pockets of unemployment and disadvanatge; and whether the statistical methods employed by the Development Commission provide a fairer picture.

The Secretary of State for Employment (Lord Young of Graffham)

The Travel to Work Areas represent areas for which the unemployment rate—calculated by dividing the number of unemployed who live in the area by the sum of the number of employees who work in the area and the number of unemployed who live there—provides a measure of the mismatch between the supply and demand for labour in the area and can be used to assess the need for additional jobs in the area. To that end the areas are defined so that there is relatively little commuting across the boundaries of an area.

The Development Commission identifies rural development areas, which comprise a number of parishes, by considering the following six criteria:

  1. (a) Unemployment, from the 1981 Census of Population, measured as the number of persons out of employment in the parish divided by the number of encomically active living in the parish;
  2. (b) The range of employment opportunities;
  3. (c) Population decline or sparsity;
  4. (d) Net outward migration of population;
  5. (e) Age structure;
  6. (f) Access to services and facilities.

Differences in the methods used by my department to define Travel to Work Areas and by the Development Commission to identify rural development areas reflect differences in the purposes for which the areas are defined.