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Youth Unemployment

Volume 570: debated on Tuesday 5 November 2013

The UK labour market is showing some signs of recovery. Youth unemployment, excluding those in full-time education, fell over the last quarter and the number of young people claiming jobseeker’s allowance is lower now than it was in 2010. The Government are committed to supporting long-term unemployed young people, which is why we launched the Youth Contract in 2012 and why we have increased the number of apprenticeships, with over 1 million starts so far.

The Chief Secretary refers to the Youth Contract, but does he not accept the assessment of the Government’s own social mobility adviser that it is having a limited impact on the

“appallingly high levels of youth unemployment”?

I certainly accept that there is a great deal more that we have to do to get people off benefit and into work, but if the hon. Lady looks at the work experience programme within the Youth Contract, she will see that it is having a significant effect on the number of young people getting off benefit and into work, and at one 20th of the cost of the future jobs fund, which I think is good value for money.

Is not the single most important measure we can take to tackle youth unemployment the creation of jobs? I therefore welcome the creation of over 1.5 million new jobs and 600,000 new apprenticeships and the news that last year this country had more small businesses than ever before. Does that not show that we have a Government who are seriously tackling youth unemployment, after it rose for 13 years?

My hon. Friend is right. In fact, there are now more people in work, including more women, than ever before in our country’s history, and there are now more households in which someone works than in any year under the previous Government. There is a lot more to do, but that is a record to be proud of.