HC Deb 08 June 2000 vol 351 cc410-1
5. Mrs. Helen Brinton (Peterborough)

How many jobseekers have secured employment through Employment Service Direct. [123337]

The Secretary of State for Education and Employment (Mr. David Blunkett)

Employment Service Direct is part of a £68 million modernisation programme, which uses old technology in the form of a telephone, and new technology in the form of touch screens, to enable people to access the jobs that are available when they need them. Since it was launched last year, 50,000 people a week have used the service and 82,000 have found jobs through it. Those 82,000 are among the almost 1 million people who have got a job since the Government were elected, but did not have a job when Conservative Members were in power.

Mrs. Brinton

I am grateful for that reply. I was pleased to learn from my local district manager that jobseekers perceive the service as successful. It means that they do not have to trot out to the jobcentre to access employment. There are also many hotlines in the community through which people can access jobs. Does my right hon. Friend agree that the excellent new service will not only get more people into the job market but increase jobs mobility? That is what we want.

Mr. Blunkett

The service is part of a more adaptable and flexible labour market, which works in the interests of growth with low inflation, and offers opportunities that did not previously exist. It is part of the development of the new learning and work bank, which will link learning opportunities and skills to the jobs that are available, help people to prepare their CVs and enable employers to access employers and call them for interview. The service is also more than that. It contributes to the employment service's ability to reach out to those who previously sat at home, waiting for someone to find them a job. It means that we can not only draw people into the jobcentre and help them, but work outwards from the jobcentre to ensure that, wherever there is a vacancy, a person is ready and able to fill it.

Mr. Christopher Chope (Christchurch)

Why then did the Government close down the successful job clubs? What advice has the Secretary of State for my 58-year-old disabled constituent who has been out of work for two years, but was previously helped back into employment by the Conservative Government's job club scheme? Why does not the Secretary of State believe that that would help in the case that I described?

Mr. Blunkett

Because we replaced what was available with the new deal for those aged over 50 and the new deal for disabled people. They provide a personal adviser service, and a service tailored to the needs of individuals. The personal adviser service provides what were previously job club activities, such as showing people how to write a letter, make a phone call or prepare a CV. The new programme has been much more successful in getting the long-term unemployed and the disadvantaged into work.