Mr Blunkett said: 'We have had to make some tough choices in order to ensure economic stability. At the same time, we have invested carefully in programmes to help people into work, and taken action to make work pay. These policies have helped bring more people into the active labour market than ever before.'
The official statistics show that the number of people in jobs now stands at a new record level of 27.91 million, a rise of 126,000 in the last quarter. The employment rate has also risen, and is up 0.1 per cent on the previous quarter to 74.6 per cent, the highest rate for 10 years.
Mr Blunkett also announced the setting up of Action Teams for Jobs across the country.
£45.5m has been allocated for the Action Teams for Jobs scheme in 40 disadvantaged areas across Britain. It includes£5.5m funding for five Objective One areas in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, Merseyside, West Wales and the Valleys, South Yorkshire and Highlands and Islands.
Some examples of what Action Teams will do include:
run bus services to collect and deliver children to and from childcarers
provide vouchers for work clothing, tools, hair cuts
support clients with driving lessons, and help with taxing/insuring their cars
provide local freephone services to link employers with jobseekers
fund people on benefits other than JSA to go on New Deal options
Public enquiries: 0870 0002288
Department for Education and Employment: www.dfee.gov.uk