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City Strategies

Volume 453: debated on Monday 27 November 2006

Our city strategy is a more flexible and locally delivered approach to welfare reform. The House will be delighted to learn that Nottingham is one of the pathfinders on the city strategy, and that it, along with other areas of the country, is developing delivery plans, which should be submitted to the Department for Work and Pensions by 29 December.

Nottingham was very pleased to have a city strategy on welfare to work, but a number of issues still need examination. Will my hon. Friend consider the question of the reward levels in cases where city strategies meet Government targets to get people off welfare and into work? He talks about flexibility, so will he consider the future of the 16-hour rule, which is a matter of some concern? If we had such flexibility, we could get a number of other people off welfare and back into work.

My hon. Friend speaks with great authority on this and many other issues. He chairs the One Nottingham organisation. I believe that he has shared with the House his view, and the analysis is such, that Nottingham is the sixth richest local authority area in one respect, but the seventh poorest in another. There are enormous challenges still to be overcome in Nottingham and elsewhere.

On the targets and rewards, of course we are discussing with my hon. Friend and others the exact way to continue to fund success in Nottingham. We will look at the most flexible way to ensure that people who are out of work have the opportunity to train, get back into the labour force and contribute both to their own family and to our economy.