In the past year, employment in the private sector has increased by 380,000, more than offsetting the fall in public sector employment of 104,000. For every public sector job lost, more than three have been created in the private sector. That confounds the predictions of those who thought it could never happen.
Unemployment in my constituency is lower than it was when I became the MP. With the further good news that Waitrose is creating 140 new jobs in Northwich later this month, will my right hon. Friend the Chancellor set out how small and medium-sized enterprises will benefit from a reduction in national insurance contributions?
I am delighted by the news of the new jobs being created by Waitrose in Northwich; as my hon. Friend well knows, I represent part of that town. That will be good for the people who live in it, and I hope that some of my constituents will find work there. The employment allowance, which we debated in this Parliament this week, is going to take £2,000 off the national insurance bill of every firm, but the biggest benefit will be felt by the smallest companies; 450,000 firms will be taken out of employer NICs altogether. That is a real boost for business, and it shows how we can help to support the recovery.
Unemployment is down by almost 30% in my constituency since the last election. Given that Selby lost almost 2,000 jobs in 2004 in the mining industry, that is very encouraging. Given UK Coal’s recent troubles and its callous decision to withdraw concessionary fuel from some ex-miners and their widows, what comfort can the Chancellor give to these pensioners, who potentially face fuel poverty this winter?
I know that this difficult situation has been brought about by the failure of UK Coal. I congratulate my hon. Friend on leading this campaign to do something about the situation, and I know that my hon. Friends the Members for Sherwood (Mr Spencer) and for Nuneaton (Mr Jones) have joined him in coming to see me about it. We are looking very carefully at the case for what we can do to help those who have had their concessionary fuel allowance taken away because of the failure of UK Coal. I am personally looking at this case and I hope to have some good news shortly.
Evidence shows that it is not just having a job, but having the right job and the right level of pay that lifts someone out of poverty. So can the Chancellor tell us how many of those new jobs that have been created are full-time jobs, how many do not involve zero-hours contracts and how many actually pay the living wage?
We have 1.4 million new jobs in this economy. To take on the point about part-time work, there has also been an increase in the number of hours worked in the economy, and a lot of the recent increase in employment has come from full-time employment. Let us compare that with the disastrous situation we inherited from the Labour party, where unemployment was rocketing and youth unemployment was rocketing. Unemployment is now lower than it was at the general election, and many thousands—[Interruption.] That is the fact. Many thousands of young people have come off the claimant count for youth unemployment, too.
Can the right hon. Gentleman now confirm that the number of people working part time because they cannot get a full-time job has risen over the past year to 1.45 million and is now at a record high? With prices rising faster than wages for 39 of the past 40 months, is this not just another reason why so many working people are facing a cost-of-living crisis after three wasted years under this Chancellor?
The best thing we can do for anyone’s cost of living is make sure that they have a job. Jobs are being created under this Government, after they were destroyed by the Labour Government. I am surprised that the hon. Lady did not thank us for creating an economy in which, in her constituency, unemployment is falling, and has fallen over the past year, and the claimant count is falling, when it was rocketing in the last years of the Labour Government.
The Chancellor made some important announcements last week about the future of the Royal Bank of Scotland. Although we are absolutely right to keep pressing the bank to improve its poor lending record, will he also put on record the need for us to recognise the hugely important private sector jobs underpinned by RBS in Scotland and elsewhere, and the fact that we see a strong future for that company?
I have discussed RBS and what we can do to ensure that it supports the Scottish economy with my right hon. Friend on many occasions. The plan that the management has proposed, which we and the Governor of the Bank of England support—it is the first time since RBS collapsed in autumn 2008 that all those groups agree on a single strategy for the bank—will mean a strong, healthy future for RBS as a bank that supports the entire United Kingdom economy and, in particular, the Scottish economy. It is an important part of Scottish economic history and of Scotland’s economic future, too.