Govt claims job filled every 3 mins under New Deal

The New Deal has helped someone off benefits and into work every three minutes since it was aunched a decade ago.

As the New Deal marks its ten-year anniversary the government has moved to defend its flagship unemployment programme, claiming it has helped more than 1.8 million people find work.

The often-criticised New Deal combines skills training, work experience and tailored advice to help the long-term unemployed back into work.

Since being launched, long-term claimant unemployment among young people has been “virtually eliminated” and the numbers on incapacity benefit has further fallen, the government boasted.

The New Deal has also been credited with helping 300,000 lone parents into work, lifting an estimated 600,000 children out of poverty.

Work and pensions secretary Peter Hain said the idea of a government setting a target for an 80 per cent employment rate would have been laughable ten years ago.

“Yet a decade on we have slashed claimant unemployment now than we were in 1997 – that’s money we are spending on schools and hospitals,” he said.

Mr Hain continued: “But we’re not complacent. Last month we published Ready for Work which set out our plans for a more flexible personalised New Deal with a strong focus on helping the most disadvantaged jobseekers get and sustain work.”

Mr Brown echoed this idea, stating the ten-year anniversary of the New Deal should be a celebration of what it has achieved as well as a chance to look forward to the next decade.

The prime minister said: “Now as we look ahead we need a reformed New Deal to help us face the challenges of the next decades. In the old days the problem may have been unemployment, but in the next decades it will be employability.

“If in the old days lack of jobs demanded priority action, in the new world it is lack of skills. And that means that our whole approach to welfare must move on.”

As part of its attempts to improve the skills of the population, the government will this year introduce legislation to increase the education leaving age to 18.

And as it continues its efforts to target the long-term unemployed, Mr Hain said the government would introduce an “in work credit” to ensure people see their incomes noticeably rise when they move from unemployment into a job.