Government policy to reduce unemployment is twofold. First, through policies set out in the Action Plan for Jobs, to create an environment in which business can succeed and create jobs; and second, through Pathways to Work to ensure that as many as possible of these new jobs and other vacancies that arise in our economy are filled by people taken from the Live Register.
To date, these policies have been effective in reducing unemployment and long-term unemployment in particular. The rate of long-term unemployment has fallen from a peak of 9.5% to 3.6% in Q4 2016. The actual number of people who were long-term unemployed in Q4 2016, at 79,700 as cited in the question, is also very substantially down from a peak of over 200,000 in early 2012. These figures can be expected to fall further this year in line with the forecast fall in overall unemployment.
The Pathways to Work 2016-2020 strategy continues to prioritise actions for the long-term unemployed. This includes the roll-out of the payment-by-results services of JobPath to engage more systematically with the long-term unemployed; providing targeted wage subsidies under JobsPlus; and through reserved places for long-term unemployed jobseekers on employment and training programmes.
The JobPath service procured by my department provides additional resources to enable it to provide a high quality, case-managed employment support service for people who are long-term unemployed and those most at risk of becoming long-term unemployed. The aim is to assist participants in finding sustainable full-time paid employment by providing intensive individual support and assistance.
I am confident these measures, and continuing economic recovery, will support further reductions in long-term unemployment and add to the substantial improvements that have already been seen over the last few years.