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Huge concern at failures of New Deal

12 December, 2007

Sinn Féin West Belfast MLA Sue Ramsey, who is the Chairperson of the Assembly Employment and Learning Committee, has expressed concern at the failures of the New Deal scheme to support people into employment.

Ms Ramsey said:

"The New Deal scheme has been operating for a number of years now and has drawn substantial criticism. The latest figures now show that it is failing to support people back into employment in large enough numbers.

"In the 9 years it has been running, from April 1998 to September 2007, the available figures show that less than a third of 18 to 24 year-olds leaving the scheme moved into proper jobs. More than 15,500 people (23%) in this age group went straight back into the benefit system. The figures for the last quarter are even worse with only 30% moving into employment and 33% going back into the benefit system.

"It is not credible that a system that is billed as the key way of helping people into employment is failing in such a major way.

"Over the nine years only 19,000 18-24 year-olds have been helped into long term employment - less than 2,200 a year. Yet long-term unemployment among this age group remains a huge problem particularly in North and West Belfast, Derry and other unemployment black spots.

"The figures show that results for men are poorer and worse again for Catholics; the breakdown for over 25 year-olds is even more damming. Over the nine years only 1 in 5 (less than 15,000) over 25 year-olds ended up with a proper job while 45% went back into the benefits system. In total over 150,000 people have started the New Deal system since 1998 but less than 32,000 were helped back into 'sustained' employment.

"The statistics show that New Deal has not, and suggest it will not deliver for those in most need. Given this very low success rate, it is hard to justify the continued dependence on this scheme as the main mechanism for helping people back into employment let alone the determination that participation is mandatory." ENDS

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