Employment minister Chris Grayling has praised efforts to bring down long-term jobless figures within Worthing during a visit to the town.
With national headlines dominated by economic turmoil, dealing with the worst figures for a generation as more than 2.5m out of work across the country has proved hugely challenging.
But the minister offered encouragement locally to the many hundreds of long-term unemployed people in the area during his behind the scenes visit to Kennedy Scott recruitment firm in Chatsworth Road.
The government-funded company, which gained a contract for the Worthing area this summer, specialises in assisting those who have been without work for more than three months.
Its emergence is linked to the coalition’s Work Programme, announced this summer, which aims to connect with a mix of private/public sector companies and charities to help move people off benefits.
Speaking exclusively to Business Matters, Mr Grayling highlighted the Worthing firm’s success in securing job placements.
He said: “I got a good sense there’s a loyal team there who are committed to what they are doing.
“They are the best contractor of work for the G4S group and my visit was to present them with an award for their performance.
“They are clearly very determined.”
According to the minister, key areas for promoting wider economic growth included government maintaining low corporation taxes and introducing enterprise zones such as Coast to Capital, which covers West Sussex. He also said ensuring high-speed internet access for all rural areas was essential.
Despite admitting concern over the rise in jobless figures, which has seen thousands across the Herald area claiming benefits, Mr Grayling believed the economy could be revived.
He added: “We have to try to get the economy to grow but our priority must be to continue to reduce our deficits or we would be in deeper problems.
“We are in difficult times but we have to remember that what we are facing here is part of a larger problem internationally.”
During his visit, Mr Grayling also met with Ferring-based Bluebird Care, which he believed was the kind of firm well-placed to deliver the government’s Work Programme.
“The care market is a growing area and it’s companies like this which the Work Programme will see great benefit with as they take the sweat out of recruitment as they are able to place people in the right jobs.
“Having our Work Programme is all about giving people extra help and no-one who is unemployed should get despondent as there will be the opportunities with the right support.”
The minister also believed Job Centre Plus was proving valuable in assisting with unemployment.
As previously revealed by the Herald, unemployment among those under 25 was of particular concern within the area.
Mr Grayling added: “These are people that will mostly be out of work only for a short time but there are a core who continue to struggle – they are the people we will be supporting. Providing apprenticeships is a big part of our plan.”