Letter: Help for jobless

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The Independent Culture
Sir: As former chief accountant of the Employment Department, Pam Meadows ("Why so many drop out of the New Deal", 14 August) should know better than most that there is a wide range of help available for unemployed people. Yet she suggests that the New Deals are the only help provided to those without work. Help is provided to all people on unemployment benefit from their very first day.

This government has made important innovations in labour market policy. Far from ignoring lone parents, the disabled and older people, as the previous administration did, we are providing specific help for people on benefits other than unemployment benefits.

It is wrong to characterise the New Deal for Lone Parents simply as a job placing service and wrong to say that it does not offer any training. It helps lone parents to find work and develop their work-related skills and knowledge through Employment Service programmes, by meeting course fees for other training - including office-skills training - and by helping with the cost of childcare.

It is far too early to be pronouncing on the success or failure of the New Deals. They have made an encouraging start.

ANDREW SMITH

Minister for Employment

Department for Education and Employment

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