HC Deb 23 March 1995 vol 257 cc291-2W
Ms Short

To ask the Secretary of State for Employment whether unemployed people who have once been required to attend either(a) a restart course, or (b) a workwise—worklink in Scotland—course, or (c) a job-plan workshop, and who have fully complied with that requirement, will be free from any subsequent requirements to attend such a workshop or course in a particular spell of unemployment; and if he will make a statement. [15151]

Miss Widdecombe

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 23 March 1995: The Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your question about attendance on Jobplan, Workwise (Worklink in Scotland) and Restart Courses. It may help if I explain that since December 1990 there has been a requirement for people to attend a Restart Course after two years unemployment if they fail to take up an offer of a place on an Employment Department (ED) programme at their Restart interview. This requirement is covered in the Income Support (General) 1990 Regulation 21A. This regulation was amended in March 1993 to cover people who have been unemployed for 12 months or more and they are now required to attend a Jobplan Workshop if they refuse an offer of a place on an ED programme. In April a new package of help for 18–24 year olds called Workwise and 1–2–1 will replace Jobplan for people in this age group who have reached 12 months of unemployment. It is not out intention that people should be required to attend more than one Jobplan Workshop or equivalent for 18–24 year olds or more than one Restart Course within a spell of unemployment if they have already been required to attend and have completed the full programme. I hope this is helpful.

Ms Short

To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what provisions apply when a person has to leave training for work or community action because of(a) operational difficulties encountered by their provider, including the unavailability of a suitable work placement, or (b) illness or accident, so as to allow the person to qualify for entry to another training for work or community action place; and if he will make a statement. [15183]

Mr. Paice

Training and enterprise councils will be required to provide alternative training where a provider is no longer in a position to provide training for work as agreed in the person's individual training plan, so that the individual does not have leave the programme. Where trainees experience an extended period of sickness, they will be able to re-enter the programme without having to requalify.

If people have to leave community action due to operational difficulties encountered by the provider or through illness or accident, they are able to rejoin the programme, if they wish to do so, without having to requalify.

Ms Short

To ask the Secretary of State for Employment if unemployed claimants are offered a place in(a) training for work or (b) community action, or (c) job clubs or (d) the job interview guarantee at a restart or other counselling interview would they lose benefit if they fail to participate; if they take up a place on any of these programmes, if they can leave at any time without incurring a benefit penalty; and if he will make a statement. [15152]

Miss Widdecombe

Participation in employment and training programmes is generally voluntary and failure to participate does not carry a benefit sanction. The only exception to this is at the 12 and 24-month stage of unemployment where clients are asked to attend a job plan workshop and restart course respectively unless they take up a place on another Employment Department programme.

Consequently, people who agree to participate in one of the programmes listed by the hon. Member but who fail to start, or who leave prematurely, are not usually subject to benefit sanctions. They are, however, interviewed to see if there is a problem, to make sure the course of action previously agreed is still appropriate and to see what other help may be needed.

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