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New Deal

Volume 448: debated on Tuesday 11 July 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment his Department has made of the uptake of the New Deal in rural communities; and if he will make a statement. (82033)

Although no formal research has been undertaken to assess the uptake of new deal in rural areas, we estimate that more than 273,000 people in rural areas1 have started new deal for young people, new deal 25 plus and new deal for lone parents and over 172,000 have gone into work through these programmes. This ratio of programme starts to people into jobs through new deal compares favourably with the national average.

New deal for young people and new deal 25 plus are mandatory programmes and people who are required to attend these programmes will be expected to do so, regardless of the area in which they live. However, new deal advisers are required to identify any barriers or issues participants in new deal may have in getting back to work, and this can include, where appropriate, addressing barriers that may be inherent in living in rural areas.

Jobcentre Plus providers must deliver provision in locations that are easily accessible to participants, and where particular difficulties exist, for example in more rural areas, they must address these. Participants also receive help with their travel expenses for attending the Jobcentre Plus office on days when they would not normally be required to, or when attending new deal provision.

Information is not available on the take up of new deal in rural areas for new deal 50 plus, new deal for disabled people and new deal for partners.

We produce an internal annual Rural Proofing Report for the Countryside Agency; this includes examples of how the Department has addressed service delivery issues in rural areas. A copy of the Countryside Agency's Rural Proofing Report for 2004-05 is available in the Library.

1 Information from the new deal database has been calculated using data on postcodes from the National Statistics Rural and Urban Classification of Output Areas.