HC Deb 15 October 2002 vol 390 cc632-3W
Mr. Wray

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) what Government services are available for people with drug problems who are seeking work; [74401]

(2) what recent steps have been taken to ensure that people recovering from drug problems are ready to enter a working environment; [74402]

(3) what benefits are available for those in work and still dependent on drugs to ensure that they do not relapse. [74403]

Mr. Nicholas Brown

We are committed to helping unemployed people who have decided to kick their drug habit and move into work. Our policies and programmes are helping people with drug problems to overcome them and lead healthy and productive lives, a key aim of the Government's Anti-Drugs Strategy.

Jobcentre Plus provides a wide range of help for people recovering from drug problems, including early access to programmes like the New Deal and Work Based Learning for Adults.

In addition, we are introducing progress2work, a £40 million initiative to give unemployed people who are recovering from their drug problem the extra help they need to get into work.

Progress2work will provide specialist support to help recovering drug mis-users to make the best use of our welfare to work initiatives and move into jobs. It will equip Jobcentre Plus staff with the skills and knowledge they need to better identify people whose drug mis-use puts them at a disadvantage in the labour market, and refer them to appropriate provision.

We launched the first progress2work projects in the spring in 27 pathfinder areas throughout the country, including one in my hon. Friend's constituency. The second phase of the initiative begins in a further 36 areas from this month. We plan to roll out the programme nationally from next year.

In progress 2 work, close contact is maintained with jobseekers when they move into work or training to anticipate and assist, where necessary, with any problems that may cause them to drop out or relapse. The assistance given is dependent on the individual's needs but can include, for example, referral to a drugs agency, help with accommodation and debt problems, or confidence building and support to manage the transition into employment.

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