HC Deb 06 May 2004 vol 420 c1783W
Chris Ruane

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what degree of flexibility he will give jobcentres over their budgets(a) to improve local skills and (b) to target jobless blackspots. [166681]

Jane Kennedy

Jobcentre Plus has a wide range of employment programmes to support clients improve their employability and help them to move into work. Within the framework of national programme design, District Managers are responsible for ensuring that the provision meets the needs of their local labour market. Programme budget management processes support this local tailoring.

Since 26 April 2004, the District Manager's Discretionary Fund (DMDF) has been made available to all District Managers and will run for two years, with lessons learned being taken forward.

DMDF will allow greater freedom and flexibility to tackle local problems, including local skills gaps, and allow investment in local partnerships.

In addition, since 1 April 2004 we have launched the Working Neighbourhoods pilots in 12 of the most deprived neighbourhoods in the country. The pilots include a flexible, discretionary fund for each neighbourhood to allow personal advisers in cooperation with local strategic partners to tackle the substantial and varied barriers that prevent residents in these neighbourhoods from returning to work.