§ Mr. Allen
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what contribution his Department has made to employment in Nottingham North since 1997. 
§ Mr. Nicholas Brown
Since 1997 the employment rate in Nottingham North has risen by 8.2 percentage points and the number of unemployed claimants has fallen by 31 per cent. Long term unemployment (12 months and over) has fallen by over 60 per cent. and the number of young people unemployed for 6 months or more is down by 70 per cent.
Building on the foundation of a strong and stable economy, the New Deals have helped nearly three-quarters of a million people in all parts of the country move off benefit and into work, including 1,700 people in my hon. Friend's constituency. An Action Team for Jobs and, Progress2Work and Ambition: construction initiatives are also operating in Nottingham North, providing further help and support to people moving from welfare to work.
§ Paul Clark
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what help he will give to offenders to find work as part of the resettlement process. 111W
§ Malcolm Wicks
We offer ex-offenders a wide range of help to move into work, including early access to employment programmes such as New Deal and Work Based Learning for Adults. Last autumn we also introduced Freshstart, a £3 million initiative to improve the links between prisons and Jobcentres and ease the transition from custody into work.
Earlier this year we introduced progress2work to offer individually tailored specialist support to help people find work or improve their prospects of doing so. The first stage of progress2work focused on unemployed people who are recovering from drug problems. Ex-prisoners referred by drug counselling teams are a priority target group for progress2work. Later this month we will begin piloting the extension of the progress2work approach to other groups facing particularly difficult barriers to work. This will include all ex-offenders.