§ 30. Mr. Mullin
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps he is taking to assist with retraining redundant textile workers in Sunderland; and if he will make a statement. 
§ Mr. Nicholas Brown
Wherever redundancies occur, and in whatever sector, the Employment Service 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 concerned. This could include offering information and advice to those affected, facilitating retraining where necessary, or developing customised retraining programmes.
We have been developing the Rapid Response Service in pilot areas since September 2000, and across all regions, including the north-east, since April 2001. All the elements of the Service will be in place next month, supported by a further investment of £6 million over two years.