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Rural Employment

Volume 301: debated on Wednesday 19 November 1997

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To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what plans the Government have to sustain rural employment and local communities which depend upon such employment; and if he will make a statement.[16496]

The proportion of people in employment in rural areas is generally much higher than in urban areas. However, the figures can mask pockets of deprivation in the most remote areas.The Government are taking forward a number of initiatives to sustain rural employment. The New Deal will help all young people, including those living in rural areas, to make the transition from welfare to work. In order to ensure diversity of opportunity in all parts of the country, we have invited local organisations and providers to participate in consortia to deliver the programme. I am delighted that Eastbourne has been selected as one of the New Deal "Pathfinder" areas in which the programme will start to operate from 5 January.The Government's Local Competitiveness Challenge Fund can be particularly helpful for rural firms. The hon. Member may be familiar with the "Wired County" project in Sussex, which is developing local multimedia and on-line service industries. In addition, Single Regeneration Budget money is being used by the Salsey Regeneration Group to develop integrated public access systems for local businesses and individuals seeking training and employment.