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Wealth Creation

Volume 927: debated on Tuesday 1 March 1977

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asked the Secretary of State for Employment what steps he will now take to aid voluntary and other bodies to provide creative and wealth-producing activity on the land, in construction or elsewhere; and if he will be considering, particularly in the summer months, making continued unemployment payment and benefits conditional upon a willingness to take up such activity.

My Department is responsible for a number of schemes which aid voluntary and other bodies to provide creative work. Nearly 6,700 projects, involving nearly 67,000 jobs, have been approved under the job creation programme, which is run by the Manpower Services Commission. 10 per cent. of these are sponsored by national charities and voluntary organisations, 15 per cent. involve construction work, and 30 per cent. involve environmental improvement.There are 4,000 places available under community industry, which provides employment for socially and personally disadvantaged young people on projects of social value, especially environmental and community work. These projects are provided by voluntary bodies and local authorities.The Government, in consultation with the Manpower Services Commission, are considering the future of these and other special employment and training measures, and an announcement will be made shortly.To qualify for unemployment benefit a person must be willing to take suitable employment, and this may include employment under the job creation programme or community industry. It would be neither practicable nor desirable to include voluntary work in this category.