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Jobseeker’s Allowance (Easington)

Volume 557: debated on Monday 28 January 2013

9. What estimate he has made of trends in the number of people in Easington constituency claiming jobseeker’s allowance in 2013. (139392)

About 3,400 people in Easington are currently claiming jobseeker’s allowance, which is up 340 on the year, but last week we saw a fall in the number of people in the north-east claiming JSA. Since the general election, there has been an increase of 35,000 in the number of people in work in the north-east.

The Government have stopped publishing the number of unemployed people in each constituency chasing each vacancy. As I have impressed on Ministers before, and I will say it again, the issue for us in Easington, unlike in Lichfield, is joblessness—a lack of jobs. Will the Minister give consideration to publishing those data, which would be useful to potential employers and inward investors?

The hon. Gentleman makes an important point. I was born and brought up in his constituency, so I well understand the challenges that Easington faces. We do want to encourage more people to invest in the area, and that is why I am keen to commend the work that has been done with the East Durham area partnership to encourage more people into work in Easington. We will look at how we can recommence publication of vacancy statistics shortly.

Ministers often say that they have stopped people on Government schemes appearing in the labour market statistics as “in employment”. But recent analysis shows that of the claimed 500,000 increase in employment over the past 12 months, 214,000 people are in fact on Government schemes and mostly still claiming JSA. What is going on?

The question is exclusively on Easington, but the right hon. Gentleman has made his own point with delphic confidence.

What is happening—and it happened under the previous Government—is that these figures are drawn up in line with international rules. I agree with him that it is inappropriate, and that is why I wrote several months ago to the Office for National Statistics to ask it to change that. Only one in 20 of the additional jobs created since the general election are down to Government schemes, and the right hon. Gentleman should be commending the number of private sector jobs being created that have helped people get back into work. That is why we have record numbers of people in work.