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Employment: Yorkshire and the Humber

Volume 486: debated on Monday 19 January 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps he plans to take to maintain levels of employment in Yorkshire and Humberside. (242683)

The administration of Jobcentre Plus is a matter for the acting chief executive of Jobcentre Plus, Mel Groves. I have asked him to provide my hon. Friend with the information requested.

Letter from Ruth Owen:

The Secretary of State has asked Mel Groves to reply to your question concerning what steps he plans to take to maintain the level of employment in Yorkshire and Humberside. This is something that falls within the responsibilities delegated to Mr Groves as Acting Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus. Mr Groves is currently on annual leave. I am replying on his behalf as Chief Operating Officer.

Jobcentre Plus has a key role in helping both individuals and employers in the current economic situation. Our priority is to ensure people receive the benefits they are entitled to and the support and training necessary to get back to work as soon as possible and help employers fill their vacancies with suitably qualified people.

As you know we have seen a rise in the number of people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance across the region. Jobcentre Plus is very well placed to help people who have recently lost their jobs to move back into work as soon as possible. While around 28,000 new customers claimed Jobseeker's Allowance in November across the region, over 34,000 new vacancies were notified to us and 21,700 customers moved off the register.

We continue to actively engage with employers across the region to help them meet their local recruitment needs. We have had a magnificent response through our Local Employment Partnerships initiative with 3,120 employers now signed up to offering work opportunities for our most disadvantaged customers and newly redundant people, resulting in 6,417 jobs. We are also working closely with local employers and partners, for example, in the call centre, care and retail sectors to offer bespoke pre employment training to fill their significantly increased vacancies. We also offer a wide range of support for people facing redundancy. This includes helping support employers to retain their staff through retraining; and encouraging staff to gain vocational qualifications to prepare for the economic recovery rather than having to make staff redundant. We also support employers where they need to go into short time or temporary stop working and we are tailoring our advice to meet their needs.

A strengthened Rapid Response Service was launched on 12 November 2008, doubling national funding from £3 million to £6 million. Through the Rapid Response Service, Jobcentre Plus has access to funds to enable those individuals made redundant to receive the necessary help to get them back into work. Such measures could include:

Skills Transfer Analysis (to help identify an individual’s transferable skills and training needs relevant to the local labour market);

Job-Focussed Training (to assist individuals with appropriate training and certification linked to employment or self-employment linked to the needs of the local labour market).

We will also visit employees facing redundancy at their place of work to explain the support and benefits available to them. Employees can also access the vacancies we hold nationally by visiting our website at www.jobcentreplus.gov.uk or by telephoning us on 0845 6060 234 and by using the jobpoints at their local Jobcentre. Additional information is also available through our ‘Job Kit’ which provides guidance and support for customers on benefits and how to look for a job and our ‘Find your way’ leaflet for employers.

The Government announced on 12 January 2009 that it is enhancing the support available to customers who are unemployed for six months from April 2009. This includes further support from Jobcentre Plus advisers, plus options to take up subsidised employment, self employment, training or voluntary work. This will all be available in the Yorkshire and Humber Region, delivered through Jobcentre Plus and partners.

Jobcentre Plus is also represented on the Regional Economic Delivery Group, chaired by the Yorkshire and Humber Regional Minister Rosie Winterton. The group is working to secure and coordinate public sector infrastructure investment and steer the regional response to the economic climate. Reporting to this group is the Yorkshire and Humber Financial Services Task force led by Yorkshire Forward (the Regional Development Agency). This group is co-ordinating the region’s response to potential job losses and producing a long term strategy to secure the future of high skilled employment in the sector. This working group is currently developing an action plan to support Bradford and Bingley Building Society. The group will be widening its remit to cover other industrial sectors.

In addition to this support we recently decided that our customers in Yorkshire and the Humber can have access to CV writing, Jobsearch advice and support through our Programme Centres immediately rather than waiting 6 months.

I have asked Ian Hunter, District Manager West Yorkshire, to meet with you to discuss the help Jobcentre Plus are providing to maintain the level of employment across the region.