HC Deb 21 April 1999 vol 329 c556W
Mr. Bruce George

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment if he will list the initiatives taken since 1 May 1997 to help those over 50 years obtain employment. [80790]

Mr. Andrew Smith

Since 1 May 1997, we have introduced a wide range of new measures to help people over 50 to find work. These contribute to our policy of "Better Government for Older People".

In November 1998,I launched for public consultation the draft Code of Practice on Age Diversity in Employment. This was well received and the final version of the Code will be published in May together with case studies and guidance for employers.

The New Deal for people over 50 was announced by the Chancellor in last month's Budget. This will help people over 50 who have been out of work and on income replacement benefits for more than 6 months, and their dependent partners. It introduces an Employment Credit of £60 a week, £40 for those working part time, for those with incomes of less than £15,000 a year. There will also be learning support of up to £750; guidance from a personal adviser wand extra jobsearch help. This will start in selected pathfinder areas in October and be extended to all parts of the country early in 2000. A consultative document on the detail of this New Deal will be issued shortly.

People aged over 50 also benefit from the steps we have taken to strengthen services for unemployed people generally. Some of the prototype Employment Zones have been developing new approaches to tackling the barriers faced by people over 50. Elsewhere pilots under the New Deal for people over 25 have also been offering special help for people over 50. This New Deal offers a range of help and advice, including a subsidy of £75 a week for employers who recruit people who have been without work for 2 years. The total number of 50+ clients invited to attend an initial interview for the New Deal 25+ pilots is around 2,000. The total number of 50+ clients joining Gateway is just under 2,000. For the New Deal 25+ (June measures) to the end of January 1999, 26,550 people aged 50+ had been invited to attend an initial interview.

The New Deal for Disabled People is piloting a personal adviser service in 12 areas and innovative projects to help disabled people and those with long standing illnesses, many of whom are over 50.