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Employment (Wales)

Volume 511: debated on Monday 14 June 2010

Business and the economy are, as the right hon. Gentleman knows, devolved matters. However, Jobcentre Plus in Wales is notified of thousands of vacancies each month. Jobcentre Plus advisers ensure that jobseekers know of all sources of vacancies, and that is included in the review of jobseekers’ job search activity every two weeks. That focus on jobs will also be a key part of the support offered to people who are migrating from incapacity benefit to the employment and support allowance. Jobcentres in Wales also regularly hold jobs fairs to highlight employment and training opportunities.

Could the right hon. Gentleman tell the House how he thinks cutting £320 million from the future jobs fund will assist job creation in Wales, and will he give me a guarantee today that the almost 10,000 jobs that have been agreed under the future jobs fund, from Rhyl to Rhondda, will not be cut by his Government?

What the right hon. Gentleman needs to understand is that Wales and every other part of the United Kingdom need sustainable employment, and that is why we needed to stop the jobs tax that the last Government were planning to introduce. That is also why we need to provide incentives for small employers—those employing fewer than 10 people—to take on people by giving them a discount on their national insurance contributions. Those are measures that can and will make a difference.

Many of my constituents have Welsh connections—[Interruption.] It is true. What would the Minister say to a constituent of mine who is physically very fit, but who has mental illness? How will we help people with mental illness back into work?

That is particularly relevant to the situation in Wales, where there are substantial numbers of people claiming incapacity benefit or employment and support allowance, as there are in other parts of the country, such as in my hon. Friend’s constituency. We need to ensure that we provide the best possible support, so that we give those people an opportunity to move into work. That is what we will do from later this year, when we begin work on migrating people from incapacity benefit to the employment and support allowance. I am confident that we can give many of those people an opportunity to get back into the workplace and make more of their lives.

Order. May I congratulate the hon. Member for West Worcestershire (Harriett Baldwin) on her ingenuity? I mean that genuinely. However, we will now focus specifically on people who are not associated with or linked to, but resident in, Wales.

Can the Minister assure me that the Government are doing their utmost to protect existing jobs in small companies, for example by encouraging Departments not to take peremptory action on, say, unpaid tax or regulation matters?

The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right: it is necessary for us to support employment in the private sector, particularly among small employers; that is why I made particular reference to our plans regarding national insurance contributions for small employers. I know, because we in the Department for Work and Pensions have already looked, that we have a good record on paying small employers, and I hope that my colleagues across Government will do everything that they can to support those small businesses, as they will provide the jobs of the future. It is not Government schemes that will create wealth and employment in future, but real business people, building real businesses.