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Issue Date:- 23 December 2008

Real help for the unemployed

MORE support will be rolled out to unemployed people as new Labour Market figures published today show a rise in the numbers of people claiming unemployment benefits. With over half a million vacancies in the economy which employers are trying to fill, a package of measures is being announced which will help people gain the right training and skills to ensure they stand the best chance possible of getting back to work.

Employment Minister, Tony McNulty said:- "This month's Labour Market figures are very disappointing and we will do all we can to give real support to people during these tough times.  We have put in place extra help and support that will ensure everyone who becomes unemployed stands the best chance possible of getting back to work, including making available £79 million of additional European Social Fund money to support people who become unemployed."

The £79 million is part of a £158 million package jointly financed by DWP and DIUS, and will specifically target people who most need it to develop their confidence and life skills and help them back into work.

In addition to the new funding, Tony McNulty also confirmed that he has agreed with Jobcentre Plus a five point pledge to anyone who becomes unemployed. Mr McNulty said:- "Every Jobcentre across the country is taking steps to help people who lose their jobs. In the event that someone does become unemployed, I can promise them the extra help and support they need through Jobcentre Plus.  Firstly people will get to see an expert Personal Jobcentre Plus Adviser who can support them; they will have access to a wide range of jobs and get help with CV writing and completing job applications forms. Where necessary, they will get help with skills advice and retraining. And they can also receive help with their mortgage.  This is the real help that is on offer to all those who need our support to find a job in these tough times."

The Labour Market Statistics are published by the UK Statistics Authority and can be found at:-

Taste the benefit of food hygiene, says Which?

LAST week the FSA endorsed a 5-star hygiene scoring system for food outlets across England, Wales and Northern Ireland, to help consumers assess how hygienic their favourite takeaways and restaurants really are.

Which? research shows that 97% of consumers think they are entitled to know the hygiene scores of their local restaurants. Currently, it is up to local councils to introduce and enforce the use of this voluntary scheme, but only 17 out of the 46 councils in the North West have adopted it.

With 765,000 cases of food-borne illness reported every year, the need for an open publication of food hygiene scores has never been more apparent. The introduction of the 5-star scheme will not only enable consumers to make informed choices about where they eat and buy food, but drive up standards of hygiene in food premises across the North West.

Which? has been campaigning for a number of years for local authorities and food outlets to be more transparent about the results of their inspections and to publish hygiene scores. The single ‘scores on the doors’ scheme will instantly help consumers identify how safe a food outlet actually is.

Louise Hanson, Head of Campaigns, Which? says:- “There’s nothing worse than picking up unwanted nasties from your favourite takeaway. People should easily be able to tell whether a restaurant kitchen is clean and the food’s safe.

We’re delighted that the FSA has listened to the consumer voice and is encouraging councils to adopt a consistent hygiene system.

People across the country will not only be able to taste the benefits at their favourite restaurants and takeaways, but ensure their health doesn’t go belly-up as a result of bad hygiene practice.”

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