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Long-term unemployed to get help to compete for jobs

The Government has pledged support for the long-term unemployed.

Secretary of state for work and pensions James Purnell said people "furthest from the labour market" should receive the support they need to seek work, despite challenging labour market conditions.

He said long-term unemployed, lone parents and people with disabilities should be given the support they need to compete for the jobs available.

Amanda McIntyre, director of the Employment Related Services Association (ERSA), said: "Work transforms people's lives for the better, especially for those who overcome complex personal barriers to find and keep a job.

"We encourage the Government to make sure there is a balance of welfare-to-work support, to help those recently unemployed and those furthest from the labour market. Although intensive support for people with complex needs is more costly to provide, it represents excellent value for money overall, once you take into account the savings in benefit payments, the reduced dependency on other public services and the social value of helping people to turn their lives around. It must not be squeezed out as public finances come under pressure."

Purnell's announcement comes as Working Links reported fewer than half of the UK's unemployed hope to have a job by this time next year.

According to Working Links, the main reason the unemployed fear returning to work is the financial gaps that can occur when making the transition from benefits to paid work.

More than half (55%) cited the best type of support they could receive would be returning to their financial support should they lose their job because currently individuals must wait for six weeks before claiming benefits.

However, 40% found government-funded work experience schemes helpful.