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Bank Bonus Tax

Volume 543: debated on Tuesday 24 April 2012

1. If he will consider imposing a further bonus tax on banks to fund job creation for young people who are unemployed. (104789)

The bank payroll tax is a one-off measure, but the Government have gone further by imposing a permanent bank levy that will raise £10 billion over the course of this Parliament. Those funds will help to pay for the youth contract, introduced this month, which will provide up to 500,000 young people with new education and employment opportunities.

So the answer is no: they are not going to introduce a bank bonus tax that could provide jobs for 100,000 young people and still leave money to spend on providing a training facility at Markham vale, which would serve all the constituencies of south Yorkshire and the north midlands. What an opportunity! If this posh, arrogant Government will not do that, the next Labour Government will do it for them.

We have heard the same old stuff from the hon. Gentleman for the last 42 years. Perhaps it is time for him to help youth unemployment by creating a vacancy. We are providing young people with more help to get into work, with an extra quarter of a million apprenticeship places. I would have thought he would have welcomed the fact that the city of Sheffield enterprise zone is at Markham vale in his constituency. That is the sort of practical action this Government are taking to ensure that jobs are being created.

Will the Minister explain to employers—in Bolsover and elsewhere—that as of this month there is a youth contract that will pay them to take on unemployed young people?

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. Some 160,000 wage incentives, worth up to £2,775 each, are available for employers who recruit an 18 to 24-year-old through the Work programme.

Can the Minister tell us how many young people have now been out of work for more than six months, and how that compares with the figure of a year ago?

I would have thought the shadow Chief Secretary would have welcomed the fact that youth unemployment fell last month. That demonstrates that the Government are taking action to tackle the scourge of youth unemployment—a problem that did not emerge under this Government, as youth unemployment also rose when her party was in government.

The Minister failed to answer my question, so let me tell the House that 170,000 young people have been out of work for more than six months. That is an increase of 114% since just a year ago. Does the Minister think it is fair that families with children are being asked to pay a higher price for deficit reduction than the banks, and if not, will he reconsider reinstating the bank bonus tax to support young people back to work—especially as his Budget has given a tax cut worth £40,000 to 14,000 millionaires?

I just point out to the hon. Lady that the last Labour Government ruled out introducing a bank levy. That levy is raising £2.5 billion, and it will raise £10 billion over the lifetime of this Parliament. I think it is right that banks should pay a fair contribution for the risks they have posed for the UK economy, and I would have thought she would have welcomed both the bank levy and the fall in youth unemployment last month.

Youth unemployment is clearly more acute in some parts of the country than in others. Why does the Minister think youth unemployment over the last two years has fallen in over a third of the country, including Bolsover, but not in some constituencies, such as Bradford West, where it has increased by 500?

My hon. Friend makes the important point that the pattern of youth unemployment varies across the country. It is important that the necessary support is in place to help young people looking for work, and the Work programme is likely to help 100,000 young people this year. That is just one of the practical measures we are taking to tackle the problem of youth unemployment—which, as the right hon. Member for South Shields (David Miliband) said, started under the last Labour Government.

With the disgrace of having more than a million young people unemployed up and down this country, does the Minister not now regret scrapping the future jobs fund during the first few months after coming to power?

It was clear that the future jobs fund was not cost-effective in helping young people, and we have found that the work experience programme is 20 times more effective. We have introduced a range of measures to help young people find work. We have already talked about the increase in the number of apprenticeship places, the number of people being helped by the Work programme and the number of wage incentives in place through the youth contract. We are going to see more voluntary work taking place and more job experience. Those are the practical measures needed to tackle youth unemployment.