HC Deb 20 May 2002 vol 386 c36W
29. Derek Twigg

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps he is taking to help the long-term unemployed into employment in areas of deprivation. [55517]

Mr. Nicholas Brown

Our welfare to work initiatives are helping people into work in all parts of the country. The New Deals have already helped well over 600,000 people into jobs.

We introduced Employment Zones to help long-term unemployed people in deprived areas get and keep work. Up to March 2002, the 15 zones had helped over 22,200 people move into work. We are in the process of extending the contracts of existing Employment Zones up to March 2004.

Action Teams for Jobs are also helping tackle joblessness in the most employment deprived areas in the country. Up to April 2002, over 30.000 people had moved into work through action teams. The team in my hon. Friend's constituency started work in mid-October 2001 and covers the five most employment-deprived wards in Halton. To the end of April this year, the team had already engaged 392 people and helped 126 of them into work.

We are building on action teams' success. In the Budget, the Chancellor announced the introduction of a new Transport Projects Fund worth £5 million a year. Action teams can bid for additional money from this fund to support innovative transport projects that will benefit their local community.