§ Mr. Ainger
To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what plans he has to amend the current regulations that prevent the Employment Service from assisting the unemployed unless they have been registered as unemployed for at least 26 weeks.
§ Miss Widdecombe
[holding answer 23 November 1994]: The Employment Service assists a large number of jobseekers who have been unemployed for less than six months; between April and September this year it placed 700,000 such people into jobs. As well as vacancy displays, the ES's advisory interview service, and at 13 weeks, job search seminar and job review workshop programmes are available. Some programmes have an eligibility requirement of 26 weeks unemployment in order to focus resources on helping long-term unemployed people, who are at a greater disadvantage in the labour market. There are currently no plans to change the eligibility rules for Employment Department programmes.