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Welfare to Work

Volume 455: debated on Monday 8 January 2007

I am delighted to say that the city strategy pathfinders have now submitted their delivery plans. We are considering all the plans, including Nottingham’s, my hon. Friend will be pleased to know, and will make announcements shortly.

I hope that the House will forgive me for teeing up this month, as in previous months, an opportunity for the Minister to let the House know about the flexibilities in the welfare to work scheme. As the Prime Minister, the Secretary of State and the Minister have all underlined, it is important that such schemes are allowed great local and personal flexibility, not least in the ability to carry over savings that have been made under the welfare to work scheme. Will my hon. Friend inform the House whether any progress has been made in the past month?

This is the third month in a row that my hon. Friend has doggedly persisted in asking that important question. I can confirm that during the Christmas and new year break, officials and I have been looking at the detail of the submissions from city strategy consortiums, including proposals to devolve resources and proposals for local branding and more flexibility in training. It is an important package of requests, and our approach is that the city strategy will be an important devolved platform for the delivery of not only these plans, but an increasingly localised and personalised welfare state over future years.