A £2bn investment in jobs and skills in England over the next seven years from the European Union has been welcomed by work and pensions minister Mike O'Brien.
The European Commission has agreed proposals for a new European Social Fund (ESF) programme for England for 2007 to 2013. The programme will fund a range of activities such as job search advice and support, confidence building, basic skills and vocational qualifications.
Target groups for the new programme include the unemployed, disabled people, lone parents, older workers, ethnic minorities, low-skilled people, and young people not in education, employment or training.
O'Brien said: "By tackling barriers to work and improving skills, European Social Fund projects will help more people realise their potential.
"Helping more people into work will in turn contribute to [the government's] wider goals to alleviate child poverty and promote social cohesion."
ESF funding is delivered at regional level through the Department for Work and Pensions and other public bodies such as the Learning and Skills Council.