Page last updated at 04:40 GMT, Monday, 9 March 2009

Help for 'middle class' jobless

Job centre in Glasgow
Professionals will have access to one-on-one meetings with a personal adviser

A multi-million pound scheme to tackle white-collar unemployment is to be launched by the government.

Extra help will be offered for 350,000 people who have no recent experience looking for work at Jobcentres.

But Work and Pensions Secretary James Purnell denied that the 40m drive would help the middle classes rather than those who were struggling.

Mr Purnell told the Independent newspaper: "No one will be getting help that is denied to other people."

From April, professionals who sign on will have access to one-on-one meetings with a personal adviser.

They will also attend group sessions with people in similar situations and receive advice on career changes.

Agencies such as Reed will also be paid by the government to help people looking for senior executive posts.

Mr Purnell told the newspaper: "The welfare state is there for everyone, whatever their background. People have paid their taxes."

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