HC Deb 21 March 1994 vol 240 c53W
Ms Short

To ask the Secretary of State for Employment if he will give further details about the objectives, procedures, benefit penalties and location of the pilot schemes he recently announced to provide more guidance and support to unemployed 18 to 24-year-olds with poor work histories; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Michael Forsyth

Responsibility for the subject of the question has been delegated to the Employment Service agency under its chief executive. I have asked him to arrange for a reply to be given.

Letter from M. E. G. Fogden to Ms Clare Short, dated 21 March 1994: The Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your question about the pilot schemes to help unemployed 18–24 year olds back into work. The Employment Service (ES) is developing two pilots designed to help 18–24 year olds unemployed for a year or more. Each pilot will consist of 10,000 places and will run for a year from April 1994. They are designed to test out new alternative approaches to helping young adults back to work. One pilot is a four week course designed to provide advice, guidance and jobsearch through group activities. It will run in the following regions: London and the South East, South West, Norther, East Midlands and Eastern and in Scotland. The second pilot involves placing people on to a caseload operated by an ES adviser. There will be a series of up to six interviews for each client over a six to 12 week period. It will run in London and the South East, the West Midlands, Yorkshire and Humberside, Wales and the North West. Participation in both programmes is a requirement for people aged 18–24 unemployed for a year or more who decline or fail to take up all other offers of help at their Restart interview. If people fail to attend the course when asked they will be interviewed to establish the reason. If a satisfactory reason is not given their details will be passed to a Benefits Agency Adjudication Officer for a decision as to whether a reduction should be applied to their Income Support payment. Individuals can lose up to 40% of their personal allowance for each week they fail to attend. Similar procedures have been in place for some time in relation to Jobplan and Restart Courses. If people fail to attend a caseloading interview a further invitation to interview letter will be issued. Should they fail to attend on the second occasion their benefit will be suspended and their case referred to adjudication. Normally their entitlement will be reinstated as soon as they do attend an interview. These are the same procedures which have applied for many years for all other interviews with ES advisers. I hope this is helpful.