CABINET welfare boss Iain Duncan-Smith came to Rossendale to promote a new scheme for care apprentices and rejected claims the government was ignoring East Lancashire.

The Work and Pensions Secretary defended his crackdown on benefits claimants and said his policies were helping get people into jobs and off the dole.

Mr Duncan-Smith was at the office of Complete Care Services in Bank Street, Rawtenstall, which provides home care to vulnerable and older adults across Rossendale, Hyndburn, Burnley and Pendle and is a preferred contractor for Lancashire County Council.

He was looking at their new scheme to provide 12 new apprenticeship places across its three offices in Nelson, Rawtenstall and Preston.

Accompanied by Rossendale and Darwen Tory MP Jake Berry, he met area manager Hayley Gregson.

Mr Duncan-Smith said: “I am here to promote this scheme and the concept of apprenticeships in the care industry.

“This is good way for people to find a job and possibly a career for life. It is also the gateway to other professions such at nursing.

“We are creating jobs and getting people into work which is better for them than sitting at home on benefits.

“The figures show we are creating jobs right across the country as we come out of the recession the Labour party created.

“We are committed to East Lancashire and helping people here into work.

“I am going to take this company’s concerns about promoting the care industry at job centres and through the government’s work programme back to Whitehall and see what I can do about this.”

Miss Gregson said: “We were delighted to see a Cabinet Minister come to our business. We want to promote the care industry as a proper career which is why we are taking on apprentices.

“It is vitally important to our clients and can provide a really satisfying and rewardind job for a lifetime.”

Jake Berry said: “Iain was keen to come to Rossendale and Darwen to see first hand how we have managed to achieve such outstanding progress with reducing unemployment in our area.

“It was great for him to meet one of our local businesses and hear about their plans to take on another 12 apprentices.”