HC Deb 27 November 2002 vol 395 c320W
John Mann

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the literacy levels of long-term unemployed people in coalfield areas were in each year since 1997; and how this compared with the national average. [82253]

Mr. Nicholas Brown

Information on the literacy-levels among long-term unemployed people in coalfield areas is not available. It is estimated that around one third of unemployed people have literacy levels below Level 1 (the level expected of an 11 year old) in England1.

We are committed to helping unemployed people improve their literacy and numeracy skills so they can find and stay in work. Jobcentre Plus has comprehensive arrangements in place to identify clients who need help with their basic skills, and refer them to high quality learning opportunities. Around 15,000 clients are screened for literacy and numeracy needs by Jobcentre Plus every week.

We are currently introducing a number of measures to enhance our basic skills provision even further. For example, each Jobcentre Plus district now has a basic skills champion to drive forward work and support front line staff in this important area, and in October we introduced a more intensive and work-focused basic skills training programme. Between September 2001 and March 2002 we piloted different ways of encouraging people to take up literacy and numeracy help. One of these pilots was in my hon. Friend's constituency. Evaluation of the pilots will help us determine the future strategy for helping unemployed people improve their basic skills. The final evaluation report will be available next summer.

1 Source

"Skills for Life: the National Strategy for Improving Adult Literacy and Numeracy Skills" (March 2001).