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Youth Unemployment

Volume 524: debated on Wednesday 9 March 2011

5. When he expects next to discuss with ministerial colleagues trends in the level of youth unemployment in Scotland. (44079)

The Government are determined to deal with the long-term legacy of youth unemployment, and this is a key priority in my discussions with ministerial colleagues. Our Get Britain Working measures and the new Work programme will provide the best possible support for young people struggling to find employment.

I thank the Secretary of State for that answer. He will be aware, however, that levels of unemployment among the 18-to-24 age group have soared over the past few months. As a result, in north Ayrshire in particular, we have the highest levels of youth unemployment. What is he going to do about that?

First, I commend the hon. Gentleman for his consistent campaigning on this issue, which is a very significant one in his part of the world. However, I think that he would also acknowledge the point that I made to the hon. Member for Glasgow North (Ann McKechin) a moment ago—that youth unemployment has been a serious problem for a long period. I discussed the issue with the Work and Pensions Secretary only last night. As I have said to the hon. Gentleman previously, I look forward to convening a meeting in his constituency where we will discuss all these issues with the relevant individuals and organisations from across Scotland. I look forward to his being part of that event.

I think the whole House shares the concern that the Secretary of State seems to indicate that he has, but can he share with the House the number of young unemployed people to whom he has spoken this year?

I have spoken to many young unemployed people across Scotland, not just this year but over the whole course of my time as a Member of Parliament, and not just in my own constituency but elsewhere too. They all want to see a sustainable route out of the difficulties that the country is in. This is not only about the Work programme measures that I have already mentioned but about getting the country back on its feet and tackling the deficit, making sure that we have a sustainable way to growth by focusing on bank lending, keeping interest rates low, and providing support by cutting taxes, be they corporation tax or national insurance. All those measures will help.