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Youth Unemployment

Volume 511: debated on Monday 14 June 2010

We have allocated more than £600 million for programmes to support unemployed young people back to work. That includes the cost of specific employment support programmes targeted at young people and the support provided through the flexible new deal.

I thank the Minister for that response. According to a recent survey by the Federation of Small Businesses, 95% of businesses are unaware of the wage contributions that are on offer to train apprentices. Indeed, 69% of apprentices work in workplaces where there are 30 or fewer employees. The same research has revealed that even more apprenticeships could be created if the system were simplified or modified.

I am all in favour of systems being as simple as possible. One of the things that I aim to ensure will happen when we introduce the single Work programme is that providers build links with local employers and explain to employers the support and opportunities that exist. We need to ensure that we maximise the employment opportunities that are out there for people without work, whether young or older.

The Secretary of State made great play of the idea that the best way to get people into work and off benefits is to make work pay. What will the coalition Government do to achieve that—cut benefits or increase in-work support?

First, I congratulate the hon. Lady on her election to the position of Chair of the Work and Pensions Committee. My colleagues and I look forward to meeting her and her Committee in the weeks ahead.

The most important thing that we can do is to deliver first-class back-to-work support to help some of the people who have been stranded on benefits for long periods and often do not have a clear sense of what they need to do to get back into the workplace. That will be a key focus for us in trying to ensure that those people get back into work. In addition, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State is examining the benefits system and how we remove some of the disincentives within it that sometimes make it financially disadvantageous for people to get back into work, which cannot be right.