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EMPLOYMENT ZONES DOUBLE CHANCES OF JOBS FOR JOBLESS

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8 March 2000 ...
8 March 2000

Almost 50,000 people in areas hardest hit by unemployment will

benefit from a radical new scheme that empowers job seekers to take

more control of the process of finding and keeping a suitable job.

The new approach trailed in the prototype experiments showed that an

unemployed person was twice as likely to find and keep a job if they

were in an Employment Zone than in other comparable areas.

This joined up approach - bringing welfare, training and European

funds together -not only helps the individual, but also the local

economy. For every individual placed in work there is a saving to the

taxpayer of some #4,500 a year on benefits and other costs.

The 15 new Employment Zones - where job seekers can access Personal

Job Accounts worth up to #5,000 in some areas to help them find jobs,

gain the right skills or set up a small firm - were launched by

Secretary of State for Education and Employment David Blunkett at a

conference in London today.

Mr Blunkett said: 'For three years this Government has been fighting

unemployment and we've been getting results not least from the New

Deal.

'800,000 more people are in work and the New Deal has helped 200,000

people into jobs. Unemployment is at its lowest level for 20 years,

and long-term youth unemployment has halved since 1997.

'But long-term unemployment remains concentrated in relatively small

pockets of the country. It makes sense therefore to focus our efforts

to make the greatest impact in the

areas of greatest need. We believe Employment Zones will provide real

results in unemployment black spots - as the prototype zones have

already demonstrated.

'By giving people a say as well as the help they need, we will match

them up to lasting jobs. In doing so, we give people who have been

out of work the dignity of a job and the chance once again to support

themselves and their families. And the savings we make on welfare

bills enable us to invest more in schools and hospitals. 'The

Employment Zone programme confirms this Government's commitment to

working at the grass roots level in areas where support is needed the

most.'

The Personal Job Accounts will help get job seekers back onto their

feet by using the account in the best possible ways for each

individual - for training, to buy tools, new clothing, transport,

child care or achieving professional registration as a pre-requisite

for employment.

Most zones will run in partnership with private firms with experience

in the jobs field to tackle the unemployment black spots.

Some Employment Zones contractors will join forces with banks to

introduce new methods of benefit payments and access to an

individual's Personal Job Account. This account will also be used by

employers for payments for wages once the job seeker is employed or

it could be used to help set up a new business.

Working Links - a private/public partnership in nine zones - will

visit local communities and provide subsidised and in some cases free

transport. They will establish websites and internet cafes in many

zones.

Reed in Partnership will provide pagers to get messages about job

opportunities to job seekers as soon as they are available. Other

contractors have promised further innovations to identify job

opportunities for as many people as possible.

NOTES TO EDITORS

1. Employment Zones affect individuals who are over 25 and unemployed

for more than 12 months/18 months.

2. The Employment Zones and the organisations that will run them are:

Plymouth Working Links

Southwark Working Links

Brent Working Links

Brighton & Hove Working Links

City of Glasgow Working Links

Heads of the Valleys and Caerphilly Working Links

Tower Hamlets Working Links

Middlesbrough, Redcar & Cleveland Working Links

Haringey Reed in Partnership

Newham Reed in Partnership

Liverpool & Sefton Reed in Partnership

Birmingham Pertemps

Nottingham City Nottingham Employment Zone

Partnership

North West Wales North West Wales Partnership

Doncaster Reed in Partnership

3. The Employment Zone initiative will begin on 3 April in Plymouth,

Southwark, Brent, Brighton and Hove, City of Glasgow, Heads of the

Valleys and Caerphilly, Tower Hamlets, Haringey, Newham, Liverpool

and Sefton and Birmingham.

4. The remaining four zones of Nottingham City, Middlesbrough, Redcar

and Cleveland, North West Wales and Doncaster will start on 2 May

2000.

5. The Government is committing #112 million over two years to fund

the 15 zones. It pools funds from a range of sources including money

that would have been spent on benefits, training, and employment

services programmes to make existing funds work more effectively to

help individuals into work.

6. The prototype zones were introduced in five areas in February

1998: Plymouth, Liverpool and Sefton, Glasgow, Tees Valley and North

West Wales.

7. The three small development projects, Wembley, Birmingham and

Solihull and Doncaster and Wakefield, began in Autumn 1998.

PRESS ENQUIRIES: Kylie Kraus - 0171 925 5326

Giles Field - 0171 925 6487

PUBLIC ENQUIRIES: 0171 925 5555

081015 03

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