Skip to main content


Volume 502: debated on Monday 7 December 2009

16. What recent steps she has taken to reduce the level of unemployment; and if she will make a statement. . (304077)

We are taking decisive steps to reduce the level of unemployment, as we have been discussing. Since November 2008, the Government have made available £5 billion to provide more support to jobseekers prior to redundancy, when they are newly unemployed, and at the six and 12-month points of their claim.

My right hon. Friend rightly describes what has been put in place when people are unemployed. Would it not make sense to support people while they are in the workplace? Perhaps we ought to introduce something similar to the ProAct scheme. In that way we will be subsidising people to keep their jobs, rather than retraining them at the jobcentre afterwards.

Thanks to the extra £5 billion that we are spending, one of the areas of investment has been in the rapid response service, which goes into workplaces and works with those immediately facing redundancy, before they start their claim for jobseeker’s allowance, reskilling them so that they can go straight into a different sort of job. In respect of ProAct and whether we should have some kind of wage subsidy scheme, in England we have chosen not to go down that road because of other schemes that are in place. We have heard some debate today about its effectiveness or otherwise in Wales.

Can the Minister tell me why, when in 1997 youth unemployment in the Vale of York and across the country was going down dramatically, we now have record levels of youth unemployment in the Vale of York, as well as those 18 to 24-year-olds not in employment or training?

This may come as a surprise to the hon. Lady, but there has been a global recession. Thanks to that, unemployment has risen, which normally happens during recessions. It has happened during every previous recession, but the measures that have been taken—the £5 billion that we have invested—have lessened the impact of unemployment. We have done considerably better during the present recession than in previous ones.

Will my right hon. Friend urge our right hon. Friend the Chancellor not to cut public spending in the areas of public services and construction in particular, which are labour intensive and should make a considerable contribution to future employment?

Naturally, we are deep in discussions with my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, but it is beyond my pay grade to comment at this point on the outcome of those discussions.