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Social Exclusion

Mr. Jenkins: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what is his Department's assessment of the measures required to tackle labour market access for the most disadvantaged groups; and what policies are in place to apply such measures. [127965]

Ms Jowell: The Government's key economic aim is high and stable levels of employment so everyone can share in growing living standards and greater job opportunities. The ambition is that, by the end of the decade, there will be a higher percentage of people in employment than ever before.

An important element of the Government's approach is to address labour market disadvantage to achieve employment opportunities for all. Policies encourage employers to consider the widest range of people for their vacancies--including the long-term unemployed, the economically inactive, people with disabilities, people from ethnic minorities and older people.

To achieve these aims, the Government have put in place a national framework, supplemented by locally targeted policies:

Since spring 1997, the Labour Force Survey shows that the number of people in jobs has risen by 978,000. Three fifths of this increase (570,000) has come from people who were previously economically inactive and two fifths

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(407,000) from a fall in unemployment. 85 per cent. of the fall in unemployment (353,000) has come from people who had been out of work for one year or more.

These figures are encouraging but there is still more to do.


Mr. Don Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment, pursuant to his answer to the hon. Member for Harrogate and Knaresborough (Mr. Willis), of 21 December 1999, Official Report, column 554W, on secondments, if he will give the names, grades and job titles of the staff seconded into his Department from each organisation mentioned, stating in each case the name of the section they were seconded to and a summary of the work that they were involved with. [128239]

Mr. Wills: The table lists the names of the companies as referred to in my answer of 21 December 1999 and indicates where the secondee worked within DfEE.

Glaxo WellcomeHigher Education Funding Division
AquemenPrivate Finance Division
BBC University for Industry--(UFI) Team Broadcasting Adviser
BBC University for Industry--(UFI) Team Broadcasting Adviser
Pannell Kerr Foster Associates Private Finance Division
LINK GroupIndividual Learning Accounts
ICLUFI Transition Team

In each case the secondees worked on developing and delivering Government policy in the areas described above.

Southwark LEA

Mr. Simon Hughes: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what action he intends to take in response to the most recent Ofsted report on Southwark local education authority. [128489]

Ms Estelle Morris: Consultants were employed, jointly by the DfEE and Southwark Council following December's Ofsted report, to advise on ways to improve the LEA's performance and to raise standards in Southwark schools. As a result of their recommendations, Southwark advertised for a strategic partner in March. Two bids have been shortlisted, and there is currently a rigorous process of clarification and evaluation involving both bidders, DfEE and Southwark, aided by consultants. We will select an appropriate model of partnership and a partner with whom the Council will enter into a formal agreement. The partner will, as a minimum, take over the running of the School Improvement Service and play a major role in strategic policy formation. A wider element of service delivery may be included.

Rural Schools

Mr. David Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what measures he has taken to enhance the role of rural schools within their local communities. [127919]

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Ms Estelle Morris: Our guidance on the reorganisation of schools makes it clear that there should be a presumption against the closure of rural schools, and we are encouraging community use of school facilities. Our recent booklet "Raising Standards: Opening Doors" encourages imaginative approaches to community use of schools, and a manual is being developed to support schools in their work with the community. We recently introduced a new Standards Fund grant for small schools to help reduce the administrative burden on heads and teachers, and from September an additional Small School Support Fund will encourage small schools to consider and pilot new ways of working with others.

Standard Spending Assessment (Kent)

Dr. Stoate: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment (1) how much of its standard spending assessment Kent Education Authority allocated to post-16 education between 1997-98 and 2000-01 (a) in absolute terms and (b) per pupil; [128743]

Ms Estelle Morris: This information is not available. Local education authorities allocate funding to schools using various factors and there is no separate post-16 component to mirror that used in the standard spending assessment process. Furthermore, central spending by the LEA on secondary education is not separately analysed into pre-16 and post-16 components.

New University (Shropshire)

Mr. Paul Marsden: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment if he will examine the feasibility of establishing a university in Shropshire; and if he will make a statement. [128761]

Mr. Wicks: It is for the higher education funding councils to offer advice to the Government on such matters in the light of representations made locally. We are not aware of any representations about the feasibility of establishing a university in Shropshire.

Business Start-ups

Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what resources and money are being made available to help people who are aged 50 years and over, who are not working, to set up their own businesses; and if he will make a statement. [128804]

Ms Jowell: People aged over 50 who are looking for work and are considering self-employment may be eligible for Work Based Learning for Adults. This programme provides: initial support and advice; awareness of the implications of self-employment; help to develop business plans; appropriate skills training; and ongoing mentoring while in training. The budget for Work Based Learning for Adults for this year is £316 million for England.

New Deal 50 plus provides practical advice and financial support for people moving back to work and this support extends to those who become self-employed or set up in business. The Employment Credit of £60 a week for up to a year for those working full-time and the

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in-work Training Grant of up to £750 provide vital financial support for the individual in their first year back in work. The budget for New Deal 50 plus this year is £120 million for Great Britain.

In addition, from April next year, New Deal 25 plus will be offering a dedicated route into self-employment.

The Department for Education and Employment is also helping to fund PRIME, an initiative modelled on the Prince's Trust. PRIME intends to offer advice and financial support for people over 50 wishing to set up their own business.

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry is providing information about help provided by DTI programmes.

Swimming Lessons

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what support and assistance he will provide to schools in order to ensure that children are provided with adequate swimming lessons. [128822]

Jacqui Smith: The National Curriculum has always entitled all children to learn to swim unaided for a distance of 25 metres by the time they leave primary school. We have asked Ofsted to report on swimming at Key Stages 1 and 2, using enhanced inspection evidence gathered during November 1999 and information from their existing inspection database. We anticipate receiving their report within the next few months and will then consider their findings.

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