Jobless 'blackspots' to be investigated

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Indy Politics

The first in-depth study into "hard core" unemployment blackspots was launched yesterday in a drive to tackle inner-city poverty.

Yvette Cooper, the new Regeneration minister, announced the investigation into why some areas continue to have high jobless rates although they are often next to areas of strong job growth.

The Social Exclusion Unit's study will address the fact that the rate of business start-ups is 10 times worse in the most deprived areas of the country than in the best.

Although employment nationwide is at a record high, with an average of 2.7 per cent of people unemployed, some pockets of deprivation have claimant rates of more than 11 per cent.

The three-month consultation, which follows concerns expressed by the Chancellor, Gordon Brown, over the disparities, will focus on obstacles in inner cities to residents getting new jobs. It will examine difficulties in training, childcare and transport in low income areas and whether more could be done to help people move out of the "informal economy" of cash-in-hand jobs into self-employment or regular work. The initiative will particularly look at how to raise business start-up levels towards the national average.

Ms Cooper said: "It is unfair that some corners of the country still have high unemployment whilst the number of jobs overall has grown."

With 27.87 million people in work, employment is at its highest level, with 242,000 more people in work than a year ago. However unemployment in the worst 5 per cent of wards is more than double the rate for the rest of England.

These areas are sometimes close to economically vibrant areas, suggesting factors other than shortage of jobs.

Seven Sisters, near Tottenham in north London, has claimant unemployment of 11.1 per cent, compared with 2.7 per cent nationally, despite being close to central London.