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Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: My Lords, a considerable number of questions have been asked during this debate. I shall do my best to answer them. First, I shall discuss the budget. The budget for the 18-to-24 years category is £3.115 billion. The June package for those aged 25 and over who have been unemployed for two years or more is £350 million. The budget for the pilots for those aged 25 and over is £126 million. As regards the pilots for those aged 25 and over, we expect to cover about 90,000 people. The 18-to-24 programme covers not only those 18 to
The noble Lord, Lord Higgins, referred to the 30,000 young people who had found jobs by the end of September. It is unwise to jump to too many conclusions about new jobs. What is clear is that we shall build up a more statistically robust picture by the New Year as we begin to start comparing different cohorts. Our aim is to consider openly and carefully all the data we are gathering to see what lessons can be learnt from them.
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: My Lords, the New Deal is giving support to young people to enable them to enter work. It has done a considerable amount to help those people find work. That surely is the benefit of the New Deal. We are considering openly the results so far of the New Deal programme so that we can learn from the data and develop programmes in the future.
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: My Lords, I am not sure whether one can draw that conclusion. I am absolutely convinced, however, that by developing the New Deal we have been able to support people who ordinarily would have found it extremely difficult to obtain work. I think the scheme has proved to be successful.
I was asked about the validity of evaluation arrangements. We chose the pilot areas on the quality of their proposals, but the competition was arranged so as to produce a range of labour markets, a geographical spread and a variety of delivery arrangements. The broad objectives of evaluation are to measure the cost-effectiveness of the approaches tested in the pilot in getting people into work and keeping them there across a range of labour markets and a range of delivery models. The objective is to measure the costs and benefits of intervening at the 12-month stage of unemployment and at the 18-month point.
We seek to measure the effectiveness of the approach in helping those aged 50 and over, and to test the response to opportunities for early entry for those groups who have been identified as facing particular barriers to employment. We shall monitor control groups in three different ways. We shall compare the pilot areas to the rest of the country as a whole and monitor a set of closely matching areas geographically separate from the pilot areas. In some pilots we shall also create control groups from half the jobcentres within an area, say Birmingham, while the other half of the jobcentres are in the pilots. Random assignment will be used in which participants are assigned in equal parts to either the pilot or the control group by a process designed to be random and therefore without bias. I was asked about information in relation to publicity. I can assure noble Lords that a range of publicity and written notice of any requirements will be made available.
As regards asylum seekers and income support, asylum seekers are not generally allowed to claim jobseeker's allowance when they first arrive in Britain and must wait for a minimum of six months before they can be given permission to work. During this period they may claim income support, with the exception of in-country asylum seekers. When permission to work is granted, they can choose whether to claim jobseeker's allowance or income support. However, many choose to remain on income support as they are familiar with this benefit. Once they have been given refugee status they no longer have the option of claiming income support unless they satisfy one of the other conditions of entitlement, for example, because they are a lone parent or they suffer from a disability. Many former asylum seekers therefore end up claiming JSA for the first time only when refugee status is granted or they are given exceptional leave to remain in the country. At present the period in receipt of income support as an asylum seeker cannot count towards the two-year qualifying period for the New Deal education and training opportunities. I was asked about sanctions.
Lord Higgins: My Lords, I am sorry to interrupt but this is not perhaps an unimportant point. I did not perhaps put my question as clearly as I should. I understand that if an asylum seeker is on income support the period he is on income support is now to be part of the qualifying period. What I am not clear about is whether some asylum seekers who are not on income support but are supported in other ways--for example, they are given accommodation or other support by the Government--would now also qualify. The drafting of the measure is erratic, but should not that point have been covered?
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: My Lords, I shall write to the noble Lord with more details on that point. There are no plans to extend the eligibility criteria to those asylum seekers supported other than through income support. New Deal eligibility is based on periods in receipt of benefits.
I shall now discuss sanctions. The Government have made no secret of their belief that people who claim jobseeker's allowance have an obligation to make every effort to find work. This mirrors an obligation on the part
The approach within these pilots is in line with the approach taken in the 18-to-24 New Deal where we have made clear that there is to be no fifth option of life on benefit without making efforts to find work. The evidence of the 18-to-24 New Deal is that we will not see huge numbers of people sanctioned unnecessarily. The purpose of sanction is to encourage participation in the programme and a return to work. Decisions will, of course, be made by adjudication officers on the evidence provided and people will have the right to appeal.
The issue of blockage in the gateway was raised. At the end of August, seven months after the New Deal started, 20 per cent. of those starting in January are still in the gateway, which, of course, was supposed to be for only four months. There are various reasons for that. Some, about a third, can be explained by simple lags in catching up with young people who have moved on. In another third of cases the young people are properly still in the gateway because they have left the New Deal--
There is no doubt that some young people are waiting for the start of their courses on the full-time training and education option. From management information available, there is a big increase in the numbers of young people joining this option in September. Some young people left the New Deal and re-joined the gateway some time later. Some have had periods of illness. We are keeping in touch with participants on an individual basis to ensure that they move into the appropriate options. We will monitor progress closely but I shall ensure that the noble Earl is informed of the information that is available.
The noble Earl also raised the issue of whether training is too short. We certainly anticipate that less training will be needed with this group. Many in this group already have extremely effective experience and skill, but we have the flexibility to give extended training in individual cases.
I began the debate by setting out the Government's reasons for bringing forward these regulations. First, we are keen to give people who have been on income support for some time as asylum seekers the chance, once they are granted leave to remain, to get into work and become financially independent. Secondly, we wish to introduce pilots which help us to develop our strategy for helping all unemployed people aged 25 or more to get back to work. I ask the House to approve the regulations and I commend them to the House.
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