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Private Sector Job Creation

Volume 557: debated on Tuesday 29 January 2013

More than 1 million private sector jobs have been created since the first quarter of 2010 and employment is at a record high. We are supporting more job creation by further reducing the rate of corporation tax to 21%, and since 1 January we have been helping businesses large and small to invest, with a temporary tenfold increase in the annual investment allowance. We can afford these tax reductions in part because we are taking tough action on tax evasion. I can confirm to the House that last night Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs received £340 million from the Swiss Government, a first instalment of the deal we have struck, and the first time in our history that money due in taxes has flowed from Switzerland to the UK, instead of the other way round.

I warmly welcome the announcement that my right hon. Friend has just made. I am sure the fact that a fairer share of tax is being paid will also be warmly welcomed by my constituents in Erewash. Does my right hon. Friend agree that another important aspect of private sector job creation is the role of apprenticeships? Companies such as Derwent Analytics and TecQuipment in my constituency have an important role and are enriching young people with opportunity and skills for the future.

My hon. Friend is right, and I am glad she welcomes the deal we have struck with Switzerland—a deal, by the way, rejected by the previous Government. Apprenticeships are vital in helping to create that skilled work force. More than 1 million people have started apprenticeships since 2010 and in her constituency alone there has been a 42% increase. I am delighted that successful businesses in her constituency are helping to train the work force of tomorrow.

Does my right hon. Friend agree that the Government’s generous tax incentives provided by the seed enterprise investment scheme not only stimulate investment by angel investors for start-ups, but help create jobs in the private sector?

I do agree. The seed enterprise investment scheme has succeeded in getting money into start-up businesses and we currently have the fastest rate of business creation in our history. I take this opportunity to thank my hon. Friend for all the work he has done, going around the country promoting the scheme.

If everything is going so well in the jobs market, why is the number of people on the dole long term the highest for 15 years? Why has the number of young people in Rotherham out of work for more than 12 months tripled over the past year? When is the Chancellor finally going to act to give people real help with jobs?

Of course, we are clearing up the mess that Labour left behind. As we do that, the private sector has created over a million new jobs, unemployment has been falling, employment is at a record high, and female employment is at a record high. I would have thought the right hon. Gentleman should celebrate that, rather than talking it down.

Private sector job creation is not working for young people. In January 2011 I asked the Government how many young people they would be paying out the dole to by the end of this Parliament. They said 279,000. In December 2012 they had to up that figure to 310,000, an extra 31,000 young people who they predict will be on the dole by the end of this Parliament. Who does the Chancellor blame for that planned increase in welfare spending—himself or the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions?

The claimant count has fallen on the most recent measure, which was published last week. As I said, 1 million jobs have been created in the private sector. We are also, as my hon. Friend the Member for Erewash (Jessica Lee) reminded us, creating the apprenticeships to give these young people the skills they need, which the previous Government were not providing, to compete in the modern economy. I would ask the hon. Lady to get behind the education and welfare reforms needed so that people have the right incentives to work and the right skills to get a good job in future.

The recent cancellation of the rise in fuel duty in the autumn statement was very welcome news for all our constituents, and it will help with jobs. Our constituents now need greater certainty about future rises, so will the Chancellor accept the Treasury Committee’s recommendation, published today, that he should use the Budget to set out a clear medium-term strategy for fuel duty?

My hon. Friend is right to remind us that fuel duty is 10p per litre lower than it would have been if we had stuck with Labour’s Budget plans. We have also, as a medium-term measure, abolished the fuel duty escalator that the previous Government put in place. He mentions the Treasury Committee’s report. I hope that, as Chair of the Committee, he will welcome the fact that we have got the money in from Switzerland, because one of the issues that the report raised was whether that money would be forthcoming, and the fact that it came last night was very welcome.

While the headline rate of unemployment is falling, is not rising long-term unemployment bad for society, as my hon. Friends have been saying, but bad for the Exchequer too, because it is one reason why so far this year the deficit has been going up, with £7 billion more borrowing than in the same period last year? Can the Chancellor at least bring himself to admit that?

Unemployment rocketed because of the disastrous economic policies of the Labour party, and the deficit rocketed too. The good news is that 1 million jobs have been created and that the deficit has come down by 25%. Perhaps one day we will get an economic policy from the Labour party and we can make comparisons with what it would do in office. Until then, the hon. Gentleman should get behind the measures to clear up the mess that he left behind.