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Long-term Benefits

Volume 464: debated on Monday 8 October 2007

11. What steps his Department is taking to ensure that there are jobs available for those leaving long-term benefits. (156113)

There are currently around 650,000 unfilled vacancies across the economy. Jobcentre Plus alone takes over 10,000 new vacancies every working day, and at least as many again come up through other recruitment channels. However, we are redoubling our efforts to help jobless people by rapidly expanding local employment partnerships, to help 250,000 people from the most disadvantaged groups into work over the next three years.

Will the Secretary of State implement any of the proposals outlined in David Freud’s report “Reducing dependency, increasing opportunity”, which the Government commissioned? Has he discussed the report with the Prime Minister? If the recommendations are not to be implemented, will he tell us why not?

I have indeed discussed the report with the Prime Minister, and I have also discussed it with David Freud. Most of it has been accepted in our Green Paper. It makes an important contribution to ensuring that there are serious reductions in the number of people on long-term benefits and people who are not in the jobs market or even in job-focused benefit environments. I will not, however, follow the Tory path, which I assume the hon. Lady supports, of unfunded, uncosted programmes that will leave an enormous black hole in public finances, and which omit to point out that it is necessary to spend to save. That is what worried me about some of the announcements at the Tory party conference last week.