Mrs Anne McGuire (Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Scotland), Department for Constitutional Affairs; Stirling, Labour)
The claimant count unemployment rate for the Highlands and Islands fell from 6.2 per cent. in 1997 to 2.9 per cent. in 2004, below the Scottish average of 3.5 per cent., and there are around 6,400 fewer people in the area claiming unemployment-related benefits compared to 1997. This demonstrates the success of the Government's strategy of making work pay in every region through initiatives such as new deal, the national minimum wage and working tax credits.