Nearly a million vacancies are unfilled in UK

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NObody In any of Britain's remaining pockets of high unemployment lives out of reach of a job, according to a Treasury analysis of the regional pattern of unemployment and vacancies published this morning.

NObody In any of Britain's remaining pockets of high unemployment lives out of reach of a job, according to a Treasury analysis of the regional pattern of unemployment and vacancies published this morning.

Next month's Budget will include special measures to help equip those living in deprived areas for nearby jobs. These could include more help with childcare as well as extra support through the New Deal's "intensive gateway", which provides basic work skills.

In its paper the Treasury notes that the number of vacancies has reached a record level, with 330,000 notified to jobcentres across the country and twice as many again advertised privately. The number of unemployed people for each vacancy is lower now than at any time since 1975.

The calculations show that whereas in 1990 two-thirds of unemployed people lived in areas where there were more than 10 applicants for every job available, only 2 per cent now face such competition.

However, even people in this "tail" of deprived areas where the immediate job prospects are less promising do not live more than a few miles from employment opportunities.

"Almost without exception, areas of high unemployment lie within easy travelling distance of areas where vacancies are plentiful," the report says. The challenge is "not simply to get jobs to people but also to ensure that people in deprived areas can get jobs wherever they arise".

The "mismatch" problem is particularly striking in London, which has some of Britain's most severe pockets of deprivation within a mile or two of some of the lowest unemployment areas. However, it also crops up in other regions with unemployment hotspots.

Overall regional differences in unemployment have narrowed during the 1990s, with the fastest declines in those areas worst hit in the 1980s.

Those people without work in the stubborn pockets of unemployment face multiple obstacles, the paper notes. They might be less likely to hear about job openings. In addition, employers might be unwilling to employ those living in neighbourhoods with high concentrations of social housing. "Living in poor estates may make it much harder to find and keep work," the report says.

Some measures to tackle this problem were announced in November's Pre-Budget report. They include, as well as the New Deal's intensive gateway, £5m in financial support for pilot employment projects by private and voluntary sector groups in 11 inner city areas.

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