§ Mr. Jim Cunningham
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what help has been given to manufacturing workers who have been made redundant in finding alternative employment. 
§ Mr. Nicholas Brown
[holding answer 4 July 2002]: We recognise the devastating impact redundancies can have on local economies and the people directly affected. Wherever major redundancies occur, in manufacturing or any other sector, Jobcentre Plus together with other key regional partners, will set up a task force to identify and provide the support needed by those affected. This can include help through the Rapid Response Service where appropriate.
The aim of the Rapid Response Service is to provide support for those affected by redundancy and help people make the transition into sustainable new jobs. The nature of the help provided by the service will be tailored to the needs of the individuals, the employer, and the local labour market. This could include offering information, advice and guidance to those affected, help with jobsearch, facilitating retraining where necessary, or developing customised retraining programmes. People affected by redundancy can also have early access to Jobcentre Plus programmes such as the New Deals and Work Based Learning for Adults. Assistance is currently being made available to over 13,000 people from 47 different companies.
On 1 April 2002, the Rapid Response Service became fully operational, supported by a further investment of £6 million over two years.