Department for Work and Pensions
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£2 billion investment for jobs and skills

£2 billion investment for jobs and skills

DEPARTMENT FOR WORK AND PENSIONS News Release (Reference EMP-015) issued by The Government News Network on 4 September 2007

A £2 billion investment in jobs and skills in England over the next seven years from the European Union has today been welcomed by Work and Pensions Minister Mike O'Brien.

The European Commission has agreed proposals for a new European Social Fund programme for England for 2007 to 2013. All regions of England will benefit from the new programme, which will fund a range of activities such as job search advice and support, confidence building, basic skills and vocational qualifications.

Mike O'Brien said:

"The new European Social Fund programme will support our aim to achieve full employment. It will complement our national initiatives by funding additional opportunities for people who are most disadvantaged in the labour market.

"By tackling barriers to work and improving skills, European Social Fund projects will help more people realise their potential. They will make a valuable contribution to our policies to build on record levels of employment by extending opportunities even further. Helping more people into work will in turn contribute to our wider goals to alleviate child poverty and promote social cohesion."

Target groups for the new European Social Fund programme include unemployed people, disabled people, lone parents, older workers, ethnic minorities, low skilled people, and young people not in education, employment or training. Notes for editors

1. The European Social Fund (ESF) is an EU Structural Fund that supports projects that add value to Member States' policies to increase employment and improve skills.

2. The European Commission has approved a new ESF programme for England for 2007-2013. The programme will invest £4 billion, of which £2 billion will come from the ESF, over seven years in two key priorities:

* extending employment opportunities by tackling barriers to work faced by people who are unemployed or disadvantaged in the labour market;

* developing a skilled and adaptable workforce by training people who lack basic skills and good qualifications.

3. DWP has overall responsibility for the new ESF programme in England. ESF funding is delivered at regional level through DWP and other public bodies such as the Learning and Skills Council, which align ESF with domestic funds to expand and enhance employment and skills provision. The devolved administrations are responsible for separate ESF programmes in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

4. The new programme will be formally launched at an event at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre in London on 29 October 2007. The first application rounds will take place in the autumn and new projects will start in early 2008. In the meantime, the 2000-2006 ESF programme will continue to fund project activity until the middle of 2008.

Website http://www.dwp.gov.uk