HC Deb 16 March 2004 vol 419 cc216-7W
Mr. Hepburn

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) what further measures are being taken to reduce youth unemployment in(a) the Jarrow constituency, (b) South Tyneside, (c) Tyne and Wear and (d) the United Kingdom; [159507]

(2) what action the Government have taken to help reduce unemployment in the Jarrow constituency since 1997. [159509]

Mr. Browne

Through a combination of economic stability and radical labour market reforms, more than 1.7 million more people are in work now than in 1997 and unemployment is at its lowest level since 1975. Despite a period of global economic insecurity the UK has prospered so that both the UK employment rate and ILO unemployment rate are the best of the major industrialised (G7) countries.

Through Jobcentre Plus, we are providing everyone of working age—the unemployed, lone parents, sick and disabled people—with advice, guidance and a full range of support to help them move into work.

Jarrow has shared in this success. As well as the reductions in claimant unemployment in Jarrow since 1997, long term youth unemployment has been cut by 85 per cent. The local Jobcentre has played an important part in these achievements, helping clients move into work and working closely with employers. By the end of December 2003, the New Deal, had helped over 479,500 young people move from welfare into work in the UK, including over 7,500 in the South Tyneside and Gateshead District and over 1,200 in Jarrow.

From April 2004 New Deal for Partners will be re-introduced throughout the South Tyneside and Gateshead district running alongside Work Focused Interviews for Partners as part of the Government's initiative to encourage partners of benefit claimants to become economically active and thereby reduce the number of households where currently no-one works.

We have now introduced Progress 2 Work/LinkUp, a support programme to help the most disadvantaged take up training provision and ultimately move into employment. These client groups include people with drugs and alcohol problems, homeless people and ex-offenders.

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