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Long-term Unemployed

Volume 554: debated on Wednesday 28 November 2012

8. What recent estimate he has made of the number of long-term unemployed people in Wales; and if he will make a statement. (129640)

The economy is our top priority, and I am very pleased that unemployment in Wales fell by 5,000 over the last quarter and by 14,000 over the last year. In October 2012 there were 21,000 people in Wales who had been claiming job seeker’s allowance for 12 months or longer.

Does not the fact that long-term unemployment in Wales has risen for 17 consecutive months demonstrate that the Work programme has been an abysmal failure?

It demonstrates nothing of the sort. The statistics published yesterday for the Work programme should not be the basis on which its overall success is judged, because it is a long-term programme. Many of the biggest gains from the programme will be seen in the second year, and statistics will follow this time next year.

Recently in Caernarfon 300 people applied for three jobs at a supermarket checkout and 30 people applied for a junior secretarial post, some of them with higher degrees, and I could give further examples. Why are the Government punishing people who are looking for work when that work is not to be found?

We are not punishing people who are looking for work at all; we are incentivising them to go out and find work. I remind the hon. Gentleman that unemployment is falling right across Wales. There are pockets where more needs to be done, particularly in rural and isolated areas, but he should not doubt our ambition to see all of Wales enjoy some of the good things we are currently seeing in the Welsh labour market.