Headlines: July 4th, 2003

The Social Exclusion Unit has launched a project to analyse the causes of low levels of employment and business start-ups in low-income areas. The project, which is part of a renewed focus on social exclusion and the root economic causes of community decline, aims to set out ways to increase jobs and business start-ups in order to close the gap and promote full employment in every region.Employment in the UK is at its highest level with over 27 million people in work. There are 242,000 more people in work than a year ago. Despite this buoyant employment scene, unemployment in the worst 5% of wards is more than double the average rate. The problem is complex because low income areas are sometimes close to economically vibrant areas suggesting factors other than shortage of jobs. Seven Sisters near Tottenham in London has claimant unemployment of 11.1% compared to 2.7% nationally despite being close to central London with good transport links to places with many job vacancies.

The three-month project will focus on what is being done on the ground to help people who are out of work, what training opportunities, childcare and transport are needed to support employment, what could be could be done to help people move out of cash-in-hand jobs into self employment or regular work and how self-employment and business start-up levels can be raised.