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Unemployment

Volume 301: debated on Wednesday 19 November 1997

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To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, pursuant to the oral answer of 13 November 1997, Official Report, columns 1034–35, how many young people currently have been unemployed for six months or longer. [16650]

[holding answer 18 November 1997]: The information requested falls within the responsibility of the Chief Executive of the Office for National Statistics. I have asked him to arrange for a reply to be given.

Letter from Tim Holt to Mr. David Willetts, dated 19 November 1997:

The Chancellor of the Exchequer has asked me to reply, as the Director of the Office for National Statistics (ONS), to your recent question asking how many young people have been unemployed for six months or more.
The ONS measure of unemployment, derived from the quarterly Labour Force Survey, is defined on a consistent and internationally recognised basis set out by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and counts as unemployed people who are: (a) without a paid job; (b) available to start work within the next two weeks and (c) have either looked for work in the last four weeks or are waiting to start a job already obtained. According to the spring 1997 Labour Force Survey there were an estimated 206,000 people aged 18–24 in the United Kingdom who had been ILO unemployed for six months or more.
ONS also publishes the monthly claimant count, which is based on the administrative system which records all people claiming unemployment-related benefits (i.e. Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA) or National Insurance (NI) credits) at Employment Service offices on the day of the monthly count, who on that day had signed on as unemployed and available to do any suitable work. Essentially, all people who attend an Employment Service office to sign on the designated day are counted. According to the October 1997 claimant count figures there were 122,000 people aged 18–24 in the United Kingdom who had been claiming Jobseeker's Allowance or National Insurance credits for more than six months. This is the figure Mr. Blunkett quoted in his original reply because your question was about young people and unemployment-related benefits.