HC Deb 07 May 1996 vol 277 cc111-2W
Mr. Austin-Walker

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment (1) what assessment she has made of the effectiveness of job clubs; [28331]

(2) how many job clubs are currently in existence; and how many she proposes to (a) close and (b) open in the next 12 months. [28332]

Mr. Forth

Responsibility for the subject of the questions 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 Robert Home at Mr. John Austin-Walker, dated 7 May 1996:

The Secretary of State has asked me, in the absence of the Chief Executive, to reply to your questions about Jobclubs.

The performance of Jobclubs is assessed on a regular basis to provide information which will improve the effectiveness of the Employment Service in helping unemployed people back into work.

Management information is collected monthly and is used to monitor the operation of the programme. The latest management information shows that in 1995/96 just over 95,500 people were placed into jobs following participation in a Jobclub and a further 24,300 took up other opportunities such as training places or starting their own business.

Periodic evaluations of the programme are also carried out. These examine, in more detail, various aspects of the operation and impact of the programme. Details of these studies copies can be obtained through the House of Commons library.

The Employment Service currently maintains a network of 1,338 Jobclubs throughout the country. This will provide places for around 204,000 unemployed people during 1996/97. This includes a number of specialist Jobclubs for people facing particular difficulties returning to the labour market.

With reductions in unemployment the number of Jobclub places will reduce. Decisions about where Jobclubs are located are made by the 154 District Managers who are responsible for the delivery of the full range of Employment Service programmes within their Districts. Wherever possible they will seek to maintain a network of Jobclubs which will be accessible to the vast majority of people of our clients. In some locations particularly in rural areas it may be difficult to operate a full time Jobclub. In these cases we are able to provide jobseekers with a Distance Learning Pack which contains advice and information to help with job search techniques.

Given changes in local labour market conditions it is difficult to be precise about how many Jobclubs will close and how many will be open during the next 12 months. However, I anticipate that the network will reduce by no more than 10 per cent during the year.

I hope this is helpful.