§ Mr. David Heath
To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what plans he has to restore reductions in hours of operation of job clubs imposed during the current year, with particular reference the reduction applied to Frome job club. 
§ Mr. Alan Howarth
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 Leigh Lewis to Mr. David Heath, dated 10 June 1997:The Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your question concerning the reduction in hours of Jobclubs, with particular reference to Frome Jobclub. This is something which falls within the responsibilities delegated to me as Chief Executive of the Agency.It may help if I explain that we have needed to reduce our overall provision of Jobclubs as a result of the fall in unemployment over the past year and a consequent reduction in funding. In the South West we reduced our Jobclub network at the end of the 1996/97 operational year by 14 from 121 to 107, and a further 4 reduced their hours of operation.A number of factors led to the decision to reduce the hours at Frome Jobclub. During the 1996/7 operational year, because of falling unemployment registers, it became clear that there were no longer sufficient numbers of unemployed people to support a Jobclub presence in Frome for four mornings a week. Between April 1996 and April 1997 registered unemployment at Frome Jobcentre fell by 30% from 1,081 to 757 with a consequential impact on our ability to fill all the places at the Jobclub.I hope this helps to explain the background to our decision. While we have no plans at present to restore Frome JobClub's previous hours of operation, we will review the position very carefully if circumstances were to change.I hope this is helpful.