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Jobseekers (Support)

Volume 570: debated on Monday 18 November 2013

Conditionality measures were announced in the spending review to increase the support for jobseeker’s allowance claimants. Claimants will be asked to write a CV and register with universal jobmatch. Longer initial interviews, weekly signing and quarterly reviews with our advisers will provide more intensive support for claimants.

I thank the Minister for that reply. Will she reassure me that that conditionality will involve remedying deficiencies in what is often called work readiness, as well as focusing on the overall number of jobs for which a claimant applies each week?

My hon. Friend is quite right that work readiness skills are key and that it is not only the number of jobs for which somebody applies that matters. Through the claimant conditionality and the longer intensive interview when a claim is made, the people at Jobcentre Plus will find out what skills the claimant needs and support them.

The Minister will know that Deloitte is selling its interest in the Work programme. Why does she think investors are pulling out of the scheme?

Investors are not pulling out of the scheme. The hon. Gentleman is quite right that Deloitte is not working with Ingeus any more. Ingeus is one of the top performing Work programme primes. We expected to see movement in the industry. Deloitte came in and supported Ingeus as best it could, and now it is exiting, as happens when any businesses come together. As I said, the Work programme is working. The figures are going up, which is something that the Labour party could not achieve.

Not only is the number of jobseekers falling, but the number of economically inactive people of working age has fallen by more than 400,000 under this Government to a level that has not been seen for more than two decades. Does the Minister agree that when people are returning to the labour market after a long period outside it, new jobseekers need support to prevent them from becoming long-term unemployed themselves?

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. Let us look again at Labour’s record. It left 5 million people unemployed and claiming. We have taken the number of people who are claiming the three main benefits down by more than 500,000 since coming to power. Instead of criticising what we are doing, all Members should take pride in the fact that 1 million more people have jobs.