Work minister upbeat about getting long-term jobless back to work

Minister
for work and pensions Des Browne has promised to tackle the culture of
worklessness in inner cities to help people off benefits and into work.

In
a keynote speech to a Work Foundation seminar on Working Cities, Browne
outlined the challenges ahead for the UK’s labour market and how he proposes to
help those who are currently inactive and on benefits, but who want to work
again.

“We
are at the leading edge of labour market policies and representatives from all
over the world come to see Jobcentre Plus and the New Deal programmes in
action," he said.

“Our
enviable position is no accident and we are rightly proud of our successful
policies, but we cannot be complacent," he said. "We must continue to
move forward and I am determined to tackle the high pockets of persistent
unemployment in inner cities.

“The
problems that cities across the UK face are not all the same, although there
are some common problems. And, of course, the problems that individuals in cities
face are not all the same either.

“We
need to be flexible and tailor support to individual circumstances. Local
solutions are needed for local problems – one size will not fit all.

“There
are communities where not working has become the norm and where generations of
families have grown up in households knowing nothing other than a life on
benefits.

“This
is a cycle which must be broken and I know that at least one million of those
on inactive benefits actually want to work. With innovation and flexibility I
am confident we can help them back into the labour market.

Browne
said he was determined to show people a way out the culture of worklessness and
the "poverty of aspiration" which surrounds them.

"The
problem is not a lack of jobs it is about making people believe they really can
work again,” he said.

By Quentin Reade

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