PM calls time on non-workers

Tony
Blair wants to get more people back into full-time work, especially lone
parents and staff on long term sickness absence.

The
Prime Minister outlined new welfare reforms during a speech at one of the
Government’s new Jobcentre Plus offices earlier today:

"Getting
people back into work moves up social mobility which is the great force in
modern market economies," Blair said.

"There
are hundreds of thousands more who could work, given the chance. It’s right for
them, for the country, for society. But with the chance, comes a responsibility
on the individual – to take the chance, to make something of their lives and
use their ability and potential to the full."

Blair
said the Jobcentre Plus system was the key to welfare reforms and would give
people the opportunity and skills to get back into full-time employment.

"We
must give the unemployed youth the skills to find a job; give the single mother
the childcare she needs to go out and work; give the middle-aged man on a
disability benefit the support and confidence to go back into the office."

He
admitted that the UK’s 1.6 million lone parents faced many barriers in finding
employment but pointed to the following moves:


£146m for the New Deal for Lone Parents. So far 1,300 personal advisers have
given 315,000 lone parents help and advice – almost half have found work


a guaranteed minimum income of £179 a week for a lone parent working 16 hours a
week from 2003


more than £300m invested in childcare since 1997, creating places for more than
900,000 children.

Employees
absent with health problems also faced difficulties getting back to work, but
Blair said 1 million would like to return to work and their talents were
needed. To aid this he announced further investment in the New Deal for
Disabled people and the Disabled person’s tax credit.

He
said modern welfare had to be based on a mutual responsibility between the
state and the individual with Government providing training and employment opportunities
that jobseekers must grasp:

"We
are now seeing the beginnings of a sea-change in how people view our welfare
state. There is growing public support for a welfare state that tackles poverty
at its source; that gets people into work; that offers people hope – in
exchange for a commitment to help themselves," he said.

The
Jobcentre Plus system replaces the employment service and benefit offices.

www.number-10.gov.uk

By Ross Wigham

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