HC Deb 04 March 1997 vol 291 cc558-9W
Mrs. Bridget Prentice

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what measures she is planning to introduce to reduce long-term unemployment. [16086]

Mr. Forth

Long-term unemployment has fallen by 36 per cent. over the last three years. We are continuing to build on the success of our economic and labour market policies by introducing this year a new package of measures to help people unemployed for two years or more.

From February project work will be extended to help up to 100,000 people. The new pilots will include an emphasis on identifying and tackling basic skills problems which might be preventing some individuals from returning to work. In addition, a new contract for work pilot initiative will explore ways in which the talents of the private sector might be used to help more very long-term unemployed people back to work. From April, under a new jobfinder programme, people reaching two or more years' unemployment will benefit from an intensive series of one-to-one interviews with an Employment Service adviser which will focus on helping the individual jobseeker back to work. We will also be making the jobmatch programme—which helps people to leave unemployment for a part-time job—available nationally to those aged under 25 who have been unemployed for two years or more; and within the existing training for work programme, there will be new opportunities for long-term unemployed people whose job prospects can best be increased through training designed to improve their basic skills.