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Social Fund

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many telephone calls have been (a) answered and (b) missed by the new telephone hotline service for social fund loans in the south-west since its inception; how urgent inquiries are dealt with; and why the service is not free to the user. [72365]

Mr. Jim Murphy: The administration of Jobcentre Plus is a matter for the Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus, Lesley Strathie. She will write to my hon. Friend.

Letter from Lesley Strathie:

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Women Pensioners

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many women in Coventry, South he estimates will be entitled to a full basic state pension by 2025. [77621]

James Purnell: The information is not available in the format requested. However, under our proposals, we estimate that almost 5.5 million women in Great Britain will be entitled to a full basic state pension by 2025.

Worklessness (Liverpool)

Mrs. Ellman: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what plans he has for addressing worklessness in Liverpool, Riverside. [74557]

Mr. Jim Murphy [holding answer 5 June 2006]: Since 1997, claimant unemployment in Liverpool Riverside has fallen by 38 per cent. the number of lone parents on benefit has fallen by 24 per cent and the number of incapacity benefits recipients has begun to fall. The New Deal has helped nearly 5,000 into work. However we recognise that there is more to do, in Liverpool Riverside and the country as a whole.

Our recently published Green Paper ‘A new deal for welfare: Empowering people to work’ sets out our Cities Strategy proposals for piloting new initiatives to help local organisations work together to improve economic regeneration through skills, employment and health. From 2007, the ‘Cities’ pathfinders will be charged with increasing employment and reducing social exclusion in our most deprived communities.
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Each area will be asked to develop a consortium with a shared interest in working together to raise employment rates and improve the economy. This may include local authorities, employers, learning and skills councils, regional development agencies, primary care trusts and Jobcentre Plus. The key aim of this initiative will be to provide solutions that offer the maximum degree of flexibility, so that local areas can provide local solutions to local problems.

This approach will provide a real focus for local efforts to help people move back into work, so that the current patchwork of programmes and support, provided by a number of organisations can be delivered in a more integrated, individually-focused and locally responsive way.

Youth Unemployment (Hartlepool)

Mr. Iain Wright: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps his Department is taking to reduce youth unemployment in Hartlepool constituency. [77185]

Mr. Jim Murphy: Our welfare to work programmes have been successful in substantially reducing youth unemployment and, since 1997, long-term youth unemployment has been virtually eradicated. In addition, youth claimant unemployment is close to its lowest level for 30 years. In Hartlepool, youth unemployment has been cut by 32 per cent. since 1997 and long-term youth unemployment by 75 per cent.

Our New Deal for Young People programme continues to contribute to this success, having already helped more than 666,000 young people into work, including 2,320 in Hartlepool, 84 per cent. of whom have gained sustained employment.

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