HC Deb 26 February 2003 vol 400 cc605-7W
Mr. Hepburn

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) what measures are being taken to reduce youth unemployment in(a) the Jarrow constituency, (b) South Tyneside, (c) Tyne and Wear and (d) the UK; [96377]

(2) what assessment his Department has made of the effect the New Deal has had on youth unemployment in (a) the Jarrow constituency, (b) South Tyneside, (c) Tyne and Wear and (d) the UK. [96378]

Mr. Nicholas Brown

Since 1997, youth unemployment has fallen by a third in Jarrow and South Tyneside, by nearly 40 per cent. in Tyne and Wear and by 47 per cent. in the UK. Over the same period, long-term (over six months) youth unemployment has been cut by 86 per cent. in Jarrow and by around 80 per cent. in south Tyneside, Tyne and Wear and the UK.

In 1998 we introduced the New Deal for Young People to tackle the waste of long-term youth unemployment. The programme has played an important part in the massive reductions in long-term unemployment among young people across the country. Almost 400,000 young people have moved into work

(2) what percentage of (a) income support, (b) incapacity benefit, (c) invalid care allowance, (d) bereavement benefit and (e) severe disablement (i) new claimants in Jobcentre Plus areas have had a claim refused as a result of work focused interview nonattendance and (ii) existing caseload claimants in Jobcentre Plus areas have had their benefit reduced as a result of failure to attend a repeat-work focused interview, under the Social Security (Jobcentre Plus Interview) Regulations 2001. [93919]

Mr. Willetts

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many incapacity benefit claimants have had their benefit entitlement reduced because they have failed to attend a compulsory Jobcentre Plus work-focused interview. [95238]

Mr. Nicholas Brown

The information is not available in the format requested. Such information as is available, from the 56 Jobcentre Plus Pathfinder offices, is in the table.

through the New Deal. Independent research found that the number of young people unemployed for six months or more would be twice as high without the New Deal.

The New Deal has been successful in the north-east of England. By the end of September 2002, in Tyne and Wear, 13,880 young people had moved from welfare into work through the New Deal, 2,390 in south Tyneside, and 1,070 in Jarrow.

We are building on the achievements of the New Deal. Early last year, we started tailored pathway pilots, including one in Wearside, to help young people use the New Deal Options more flexibly and move into sustained jobs. In 2002 we launched StepUp in 20 pilot areas, including Sunderland, to provide transitional jobs for people who have not secured sustained jobs through New Deal. We have introduced progress2work to provide additional support to help unemployed drug misusers into work. The initiative is already up and running in Newcastle, and will be starting in Sunderland very shortly, and will be rolled out across the country later this year. We have also developed ambition initiatives to help unemployed people gain the right skills to meet the needs of employers in key sectors. One such initiative for the retail sector is operating in Gateshead. We are introducing progress2work-LinkUP to help those facing the greatest disadvantages in the labour market, including ex-offenders, homeless people and recovering alcohol misusers. One of the pilots will start in south Tyneside later this year. These initiatives are ensuring that all young people, even those who face great disadvantages in the labour market or who live in the most deprived areas, are given the help and support they need to gain independence through moving from welfare to work.