There are a range of measures in place to tackle long-term unemployment, including the Work programme. Last week’s unemployment figures show a fall of 5,000 in the number of people who have been unemployed for more than a year, and a fall of 10,000 in the number of people who have been unemployed for more than two years.
When the hon. Lady’s party was in government, the number of people in long-term unemployment doubled, but this month we have seen a reduction in the numbers of people unemployed for more than one year and for more than two years. I would have thought she would be welcome that. It demonstrates that ours are the right actions to tackle the problems of long-term unemployment.
Employment in the west midlands has increased by 4.3% in the past 12 months and the average time spent on jobseeker’s allowance is just three months. What can my hon. Friend do to bring all Work programme providers up to the standard of the best providers, such as EOS in the black country?
I, too, have seen the excellent work that EOS does to improve people’s chances of getting into work—it has some innovative programmes—and I am relentless in pushing Work programme providers to improve their performance so that we get people into work. Last month’s unemployment figures are testament to the benefits of our actions.