Unemployed helped to take millennium jobs

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NEW MEASURES to encourage unemployed people to fill large numbers of temporary jobs over Christmas and the millennium were unveiled yesterday by David Blunkett, the Secretary of State for Employment.

Mr Blunkett announced a new rule whereby any unemployed person wanting to work over the new year would not give up their right to support through the New Deal programme.

Currently, jobseekers have to be unemployed for six months before qualifying for New Deal help. The new plans will see that rule waived in relation to unemployed people taking on temporary employment in November and December. Mr Blunkett hailed his jobs promise as a "millennium bonus", helping unemployed people of all ages to gain valuable experience over the holiday period.

However, he also appeared to admit that the plans could offer a low-cost alternative to employers facing huge wage bills during the festivities. Mr Blunkett said: "This change will make a contribution to damping down temporary pressure on wage levels, thereby helping the economy."