Over the past few months there has been a fall in the number of young people claiming jobseeker’s allowance. However, we remain extremely concerned about youth unemployment. We are introducing measures through the Work programme and our work experience plans, and other measures through Jobcentre Plus, in order to provide the best possible support for young people who are struggling to find employment.
Nearly 25,000 18 to 24-year-olds are claiming jobseeker’s allowance in the north-east, and young people account for more than 30% of the unemployed population in the region. Can the Minister assure me that there will be enough funds in the Work programme to guarantee that those young people will be helped into employment?
I share the hon. Lady’s concern. The fact that 600,000 people who left school and college under the last Administration have yet to find work is a huge problem that we must address. We are providing specialist back-to-work support through the Work programme, earlier than has been the case under previous programmes, and after three months for some young people with the most challenged backgrounds. I can assure the hon. Lady that that will remain a priority for the present Administration.