Written Answers. - Live Register.

Brendan Howlin

Question:

120 Mr. Howlin asked the Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs his views on the regional disparities in live register reductions; if he proposes any special measures to ensure that the reduction in the unemployment rate in regions, such as the Border and midlands, is brought into line with other regions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20492/00]

According to the latest figures available from the Central Statistics Office, there was a drop of 39,644, or 20% – from 198,026 to 159,026 – in the live register in the 12 months to August 2000.

The largest decreases were recorded in the eastern and south west areas, which include the two main urban areas in the country. In the Dublin area the decrease was 25% while in Cork there was a decrease of 27%. On the other hand the decrease in the same period in the Border and midland areas was 14%.

Fluctuations in live register figures in rural areas cannot be compared to the larger urban areas, where higher number of job opportunities will contribute to an increased volume of outflows. In addition, certain counties in the Border and midlands regions have been hit by a number of significant redundancies in the last 12 months which would have an influence on the total numbers on the live register in these areas.
In so far as my Department is concerned we have, through the efforts of our employment support services, continued to assist the long-term unemployed to leave the live register and return to the active labour force. A number of special projects have been undertaken in the Border and midlands areas by my Department's jobs facilitators, usually in partnership with other local agencies and community based organisations. These range from training programmes, business support schemes, IT training and back to education courses. In addition, local offices of the Department give information to unemployed people about local job vacancies and educational opportunities. They also invite other relevant agencies to visit the offices and provide information first hand on their services to customers when they are signing on.
The Government, through the different enterprise support agencies, is committed to ensuring the most equitable distribution of job opportunities and to encourage the establishment of industry in rural Ireland. The development agencies are now strongly focused on achieving this aim and resources are being deployed to reflect this new focus.
The agencies' focus on regionalisation ensures that an attractive financial package will be made available to any appropriate project which may choose to locate or expand in the regions.
Complementary measures in the National Development Plan will also help to underpin the regional strategies of the development agencies. The measures provided for in the plan will provide the infrastructure necessary for the attraction of overseas investment currently lacking outside the major urban areas. The plan envisages spending a higher amount per head of population in the largely rural Border, Midland and West regions.
The Government is confident that the co-ordinated efforts being made by the development agencies will further advance economic development and employment in rural Ireland.