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Employment Schemes: Greater Manchester

Volume 495: debated on Tuesday 30 June 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps her Department is taking to increase the number of people aged (a) over 50 years and (b) between 18 and 25 years in employment in (i) Tameside, (ii) Stockport and (iii) Greater Manchester. (277499)

The Government are committed to giving everyone the support they need to find employment as quickly as possible, whatever their age.

A major factor in the employment of older people is employer behaviour. In addition to providing generic good practice guidance to employers, the UK's Age Positive initiative is working in partnership with business leaders to develop sector-based models of flexible retirement to support the increased employment and retention of older workers and the removal of fixed retirement ages.

Our plans for the future include providing guidance to older workers on their options for working longer, encouraging employers to increase flexible work and phased retirement opportunities, a review of the Default Retirement Age in 2011—if it is found to be no longer needed it will be removed, and monitoring the impact of the economic downturn, identifying which groups are being most affected and further increasing help where it is most needed.

For young people who are in danger of slipping into long-term unemployment, funding was provided in the Budget for the Young Person's Guarantee; a guaranteed offer of a job, work-focused training, or meaningful activity to all 18 to 24-year-olds who reach the 12-month stage of their claim to jobseeker's allowance. At the discretion of the Jobcentre Plus adviser, parts of this guaranteed offer could also be extended to people over 24 who face significant barriers in the labour market.

As part of the Young Person's Guarantee, the Future Jobs Fund will help create up to 100,000 new jobs. It will also help create up to 50,000 new jobs in areas of high unemployment, and is available to all people of working age claiming out of work benefits. We expect the Young Person's Guarantee to be available from January 2010 but we want to get Future Jobs Fund jobs up and running as soon as possible—with some places starting as early as October this year.

In addition to this, on 6 April 2009, as part of the Government's response to the economic downturn, the Department for Work and Pensions put in place extra support for newly unemployed customers of all ages, including information and advice about the latest job search techniques and coaching on how to make the most of transferable skills. Extra help for those who have been claiming jobseeker's allowance for six months was also introduced, including opportunities to volunteer, support to become self-employed, recruitment subsidies and work-focused training.

Since last autumn, the Department has also quadrupled the available funding for the Rapid Response Service, which provides advice and support to customers facing redundancy. It has also extended Local Employment Partnerships, the Adviser Discretion Fund and Access to Work so they are available to customers from the first day of their claim, alongside the support they receive from their Jobcentre Plus personal adviser. This help is available to customers of all ages to ensure that everyone has the best possible chance of finding work.

The introduction of the Flexible New Deal across Phase 1 areas from October 2010 will give providers the freedom to offer personalised, tailored support to everyone who has been claiming jobseeker's allowance for 12 months, helping them overcome their individual barriers to work. Greater Manchester East and West and Greater Manchester Central districts are included in Phase 1 of the New Jobseeker's Regime and Flexible New Deal and are also pilot districts for Integrated Employment and Skills.

Across the whole of the Greater Manchester area, Jobcentre Plus also promotes a range of partner provision to enhance the confidence, skills and employability of all of our customers, including those aged 18 to 24 and 50+.