We are strongly encouraging the third sector to make bids to the future jobs fund. We believe that there is great potential in the third sector to deliver good jobs that help the community and provide important training and work experience for young people.
Last month I arranged a job summit in South Ribble with a number of partners. We are seeking to make a bid in the first round of the future jobs fund at the end of this month. One of the issues raised at the meeting was the fact that many voluntary sector bodies, charities and small businesses employ only a handful of people, and therefore would not be eligible to apply individually to the future jobs fund. South Ribble seeks to bring a number of partners together to support small businesses and bodies in the charitable and voluntary sector that employ people in ones and twos. Will my right hon. Friend reassure me that bids made by such partners will be acceptable?
My hon. Friend is right. May I congratulate him on the work that he does on the subject, to support jobs in his constituency? We want partners to come together to put forward proposals. That includes drawing on not only small businesses but small charitable organisations and other kinds of small groups that may be able to provide help. We set up the programme as we did in order to be able to deliver very rapidly more than 100,000 youth jobs, with a further 50,000 for the most deprived areas. It is an ambitious programme, but we think it is the right one, given the need to support people through a difficult time as a result of the world recession.
What response will the Secretary of State make to the Centre for Cities report, published last week, which shows that the future jobs fund is quite inadequate for dealing with the likely number of youth unemployed, which will rise to approximately 350,000 by the end of 2011? That rise will have a big impact in places such as Sunderland, Barnsley, Swindon and Peterborough. What action is the Department for Work and Pensions taking to ameliorate the concerns raised in the report?
It is exactly in order to prevent long-term youth unemployment, and long-term unemployment across the board, that we are investing in measures such as help for people who have been out of work for six months, and additional support for people from the very day they lose their job. If we can start bringing unemployment down faster than it came down in the early ’80s and early ’90s, it helps not only families who would otherwise be scarred by long-term unemployment but the wider economy and the public finances. That is why it is right to make that investment. The hon. Gentleman’s comments would be rather more credible if he and his party supported the £1 billion future jobs fund, which is so critical to giving opportunities to the young people he mentions.