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Ms Jowell: Tackling unemployment among the 25 plus age group is a key priority for this Government, and we are already making significant inroads: two year plus unemployment among those aged 25 and over is down over 60 per cent. since May 1997.
From April 2001 we are putting in place an even more intensive range of support for adult unemployed people, which will begin on the first day of registered unemployment and increase in intensity in proportion to the individual's labour market disadvantage. This help includes supported jobsearch, training for people with serious basic skills needs and those lacking soft skills, occupational work based training and work trials with employers. An enhanced New Deal 25 plus will provide high quality intensive help for people unemployed for 18 months or more. In addition, other New Deal programmes continue to address the employment needs of other groups, including lone parents, disabled people, partners of unemployed people and people aged 50 and over.
Ms Jowell: ONE is a radical new programme helping people of working age achieve their potential and independence. There is an ongoing evaluation to assess the effectiveness of the ONE service pilots against their set objectives. The evaluation comprises quantitative and qualitative research, operational research, a database and cost-benefit analysis. The effectiveness of the pilots will be evaluated primarily by comparing results for participants in the pilot areas with those for similar people in comparable areas.
The first results from the ONE evaluation were published on 30 November in three reports: "Why Not ONE?", "First Effects of ONE" and "ONE Basic Model Pilot and Control Areas, Analyses from the ONE Evaluation Database Voluntary Phase". All three reports provided findings from the ONE evaluation for the period when the pilots were voluntary. The broad findings from this research indicate support for the ONE service and a positive experience of claiming by those who chose to participate. There is also evidence that early intervention is changing attitudes, and providing help to also look for work as either a short or longer-term option. The reports are available at www.dss.gov.uk/asd/asd5/ (for the first two) and www.dss.gov.uk/asd/online.html for the third. They are also available in the House of Commons Library.
Further results will be published throughout the evaluation, with the next findings on the medium term labour market effects (nine months after joining ONE) due in autumn 2001. Quantitative information on the
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immediate labour market effects of the compulsory phase should also be available in autumn 2001, and for medium term effects from winter 2002. Information from the qualitative research for both pilots should be available earlier.
Mr. Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment if he will set out (a) the number and value of bids which he received from the most recent round of sustainability funding for pre-schools, and the number and value of successful bids and (b) the criteria by which successful bids were chosen. 
Ms Hodge [holding answer 21 December 2000]: The sustainability scheme, announced by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State in May, made available £250,000 for projects that would support voluntary pre-schools and playgroups, which are developing new approaches which enhance their longer-term sustainability. This scheme is in addition to the current scheme of small grants to pre-schools and playgroups facing financial difficulties, for which a further £500,000 has been made available this year.
We assessed all proposals carefully, taking into account a range of factors, including the number of pre-schools or playgroups likely to benefit from the scheme, involvement and commitment of other partners, exit strategies, and replicability. We also sought the views of representatives of the playgroup organisations.
Over the last three years we have made available a total of £1.75 million for grants to voluntary pre-schools and playgroups facing financial difficulties, to give them breathing space to consider their longer-term plans as funding benefits work through to individual groups. In the first two years of the scheme, grants were made to 1,500 pre-schools and playgroups.
Yvette Cooper: Our investment in Sure Start is set to more than double. By 2003-04, there will be 500 local Sure Start programmes, which will reach one third of all children aged under four living in poverty. The main criteria used in selecting districts for Sure Start are levels of disadvantage and poverty, though we also ensure a mix of rural, urban, semi-urban and coastal areas and a good spread across the country. As the programme develops, we shall examine ways in which Sure Start can reach disadvantaged young children living in small pockets of deprivation in otherwise affluent areas, and in rural areas. The areas invited to develop programmes will be announced in due course.
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Mr. Chaytor: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what steps his Department is taking to encourage stronger links between schools and further education colleges in order to widen opportunities for 14 to 16-year-olds to take up vocational courses; and if he will make a statement. 
Jacqui Smith [holding answer 11 January 2001]: The Government are committed to creating high-quality vocational opportunities for all 14 to 16-year-olds who would benefit. Vocational qualifications including the Part One GNVQ can be taken alongside the National Curriculum at Key Stage 4, and where a pupil would benefit from extended work-related learning, disapplication from some subjects of the National Curriculum is available. The Government strongly support partnerships between schools and local further education colleges as these links can offer an efficient and effective means of providing these learning opportunities. We are supporting these measures through the Standards Fund and through direct funding of local projects. In addition, the launch of the vocational GCSEs in September 2002 will boost links, as many colleges will be in a good position to offer the new qualifications to pupils in schools.
Mr. Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what the budgeted running costs and staff numbers are for 2000-01 for the regional offices of (a) the Further Education Funding Council and (b) the Higher Education Funding Council. 
|Region||FEFC (£)||Full-time equivalent (FTE) staff numbers for 2000-01|
|Yorkshire and Humber||627,228||19.1|
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Mr. Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what the budgeted expenditure is for 2000-01 by region of the (a) Further Education Funding Council and (b) Higher Education Funding Council. 
|Yorkshire and Humber||337,925,586|
|Yorkshire and Humber||435,385,450|
Mr. Cousins: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what proportion of funding for the Higher Education Funding Council allocations to each university were in respect of research support in (a) 1998-99, (b) 1999-2000, (c) 2000-01 and (d) estimated for 2001-02; and what such allocations were expressed as a sum per student. 
Mr. Wicks: Information on research funding and student numbers by institution is published by the Higher Education Funding Council (HEFCE) in their Annual reports. The reports for 1997-98, 1998-99 and 1999-2000, which show student numbers during these years and funding allocations for the following academic year, can be obtained from the Library.
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