HC Deb 21 October 2002 vol 391 cc115-6W
Ross Cranston

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what further steps he will take to help communities with high levels of long term unemployment. [73065]

Mr. Andrew Smith

Economic stability and active labour market programmes have helped people move from welfare to work in all parts of the country. Unemployment has in general fallen fastest in the areas where it was highest, so that the gap between the employment rate in the poorest areas and the average has narrowed.

As well as the New Deals, we have Action Teams for Jobs and Employment Zones operating in areas with persistently high levels of unemployment.

Of course we want to do more. We are piloting the mandatory StepUp jobs initiative, working on extending Employment Zones to more client groups and investing new funds to help Action Teams support employment and transport projects that will benefit their local communities.

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