Employment Minister Tessa Jowell today pledged Government support for ground breaking schemes run by local communities to create jobs in deprived areas.
Ms Jowell said the Government's New Deal Innovation Fund was producing excellent results in around 50 schemes across the country helping disadvantaged people find jobs. A further £9.5 million is available over the next 3 years.
Speaking at a joint DSS/OECD conference on best practices in tackling poverty and social exclusion, Ms Jowell said, "Our labour market policies cannot be judged a success unless we extend the reach of employment opportunity to groups of people, and into parts of the country, that so far have failed to benefit from economic growth."
"There are about 50 New Deal Innovation Fund projects operating around the country. These aim to help ex-offenders, the homeless and people from ethnic minority backgrounds to overcome barriers to employment. Helping those who face disadvantage is the foundation of these projects and they aim to work with the local community and employers to produce solutions which address local needs."
"The projects form an important part of the Government,s wider commitment to local communities and their regeneration. The fund is a very useful testbed for identifying what works in local contexts and is also an important indicator of how flexibility can be introduced into the New Deal."
A variety of projects are underway:
- In Rochdale a project is using outreach support and guidance to the Asian community.
- Another in Nottingham has set up a New Deal advice centre at a Foyer project for the homeless providing a single access point for housing and New Deal help.
- A project in Croydon and Bromley is enhancing the employability of ex-offenders by identifying and tackling dyslexia and gaps in basic skills. In North Wales a project recruits learning assistants for LEAs and local schools.
- In Lewisham, London, a partnership has been formed with KPMG to provide them with New Deal staff – recruits are given IT training that is specifically focused on the needs of KPMG.
Ms Jowell also announced that the Government's Sure Start programme working with parents and young children in disadvantaged areas will become more work-focused.
Ms Jowell said, "In the future Sure Start will be working more closely with the Employment Service, with New Deal for Lone Parents advisers and others to help parents into work and training, backed by quality local childcare."
"The Government,s National Childcare Strategy will have created places for 1.6 million children by 2004, my colleague, Minister for Employment and Equal Opportunities Margaret Hodge, announced today. Taking into account turnover, that means a net increase in places for one million children in England alone."