§ Mr. Jim Cunningham
To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what plans he has to increase local powers(a) over job creation and training programmes and (b) to co-ordinate different publicly funded regeneration and employment projects. 
§ Mr. Mudie
[holding answer 9 December 1998]: (a)We are committed to the principle that local partnerships should be able to develop solutions to identified local needs. Initiatives such as the Single Regeneration Budget and New Deal for Communities offer vehicles for this, and people, jobs and skills are at their heart. It is crucial that all partners involved in activities focused employability work closely together to ensure that local programmes fit as effectively as possible with national programmes such as New Deal.
The Government support the Local Government Association New Commitment to Regeneration Initiative which is seeking a more co-ordinated and flexible approach to regeneration in 22 pathfinder areas. The Government will work wholeheartedly with the pathfinder areas as they seek new and effective ways of meeting the needs and priorities of their localities.
(b) Helping people in deprived communities to obtain jobs is a high priority in all regeneration initiatives. The 17 New Deal for Communities Pathfinders have been asked to put this at the centre of their plans. Guidelines for Round 5 of the Single Regeneration Budget emphasised the importance of employability.
I also refer my hon. Friend to the reply my right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister gave on 28 October 1998, Official Report, columns 168–69, which gives detailed information on steps taken by this Government to improve the co-ordination of area-based initiatives.