[Sinn Fein]

17th January 2002

New Deal for unemployed failing to deliver

Sinn Fein Employment and Learning Spokesperson, Foyle MLA Mary Nelis has criticised the failure of the New Deal.

Mary Nelis said:

"The performance of the New Deal questions the ability of the scheme to make a real impact on unemployment.

"Department officials have revealed that 1 million was wasted on creating a new 'corporate' brand for new deal. The entire rebranding process has since been criticised by the Public Accounts Committee because it was not put out to tender to ensure best value.

"Officials have also indicated that 7,000 New Deal places have not been taken up and that 17 million of the budget for the scheme remained unspent partly because of the poor take up rates but also because of the 20% staff vacancies.

"The high level of absenteeism is an indication that staff trying to implement the scheme are suffering from low morale.

"All this is evidence of a scheme that is not being properly managed. Given the importance of bringing people back into the work force through training opportunities and work placements, and in particular, the failure to make any serious inroads into large number of marginalised people who are classified as 'long-term' unemployed the New Deal needs to re-evaluated as a matter of urgency."

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