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Pre-Budget report: New Deal expansion, assistance for mass redundancies

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The Chancellor's pre-budget report announced yesterday includes a further expansion of the New Deal scheme for lone parents, the long-term unemployed and a new scheme to target those at risk of large-scale redundancies to retrain in areas of skills shortages.

The extension of the scheme will provide an extra £23 million over the next three years for an additional 150,000 lone parents who do not claim income support and therefore are not currently eligible for New Deal. The government is also extending help to the long-term unemployed by improving the New Deal 25 plus scheme from next April to include extra advisory time and support, greater flexibility with packages of help on offer and funding available to deal with individual needs through the Jobseeker’s Grant, e.g. to buy clothes or tools for work. It plans to offer further subsidies to employers to encourage them to participate in the scheme.

The Chancellor also announced an additional £9 million is being made available to help those affected by large-scale redundancies to move into new jobs more easily "by anticipating changes in the labour market and working with employers – both those facing difficulties and new ones that are growing and wishing to recruit." The Employment Service will be responsible for this new Job Transition Service, details of which have yet to be confirmed, but the Learning and Skills Council will also play a part in identifying skills shortages and targetting those affected by redundancies to fill these gaps.

The success of New Deal has been loudly trumpeted by the government, which has been producing statistics to back up its claims that the scheme is benefitting thousands on a regular basis and that over 66,000 of the lone parents participating in the programme have moved into work. The Conservatives say that the statistics are misleading and that many lone parents on the scheme would have found work anyway.

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