HC Deb 24 July 2002 vol 389 c1593W
Mr. Love

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the terms of reference are of the current evaluation of employment zones; when the evaluation will be completed; and if he will make a statement. [73541]

Mr. Nicholas Brown

The terms of reference of the current evaluation of Employment Zones are to assess the contribution of Zones to helping long-term claimants of Jobseeker's Allowance aged 25 and over find and retain jobs.

The current evaluation will be completed with the publication in May 2003 of a cohort study comparing characteristics and outcomes of Zone participants with those of similar long-term unemployed people.

Our evaluation to date shows that Employment Zones are making a positive contribution in helping long-term unemployed people in deprived areas move off benefit and into work. The 15 Zones have already helped over 23,600 people into jobs. We have recently extended the current Zone contracts to March 2004 and we will also be testing the Employment Zone approach with other groups such as lone parents and people returning to the New Deals.

A qualitative study of Zone operations between winter 2000 and summer 2001 was published on 17 July 2002 (Working Age Evaluation Series, Number 124). A copy is available in the Library. The report highlights some encouraging findings about the Zones, recognising, for example, that they have a genuinely innovative delivery system and underlining the importance of the flexibility afforded to Personal Advisers in helping people move into jobs. We will study the report's findings closely and consider what lessons can be learnt from the Employment Zone approach.

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