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Employment Statistics

Volume 573: debated on Monday 13 January 2014

7. What assessment he has made of the implications for his Department’s policies of the most recent employment statistics. (901899)

14. What assessment he has made of the implications for his Department’s policies of the most recent employment statistics. (901906)

The latest employment statistics, which show a record number of people in work and falling unemployment, demonstrate that our policies are working.

Will my hon. Friend tell the House by how much the number of claimants has fallen since the Government were elected in 2010, and what has been the consequent saving to the public purse?

I know that my hon. Friend is very interested in this subject. I understand that he runs business breakfast clubs to help people to obtain work, and to secure growth in his constituency. I can tell him that 525,000 fewer people have claimed the three main out-of-work benefits since the election, that both unemployment and the claimant count are lower, and that in his constituency the claimant count has fallen by 23% in the last year, long-term unemployment has fallen by 16%, and youth unemployment has fallen by 28%. Obviously, all that is saving the Government a considerable amount of money.

Youth unemployment in my constituency has fallen by 25.6% in the last 12 months alone thanks to this Government. I organise a job fair every year, and last year more than 2,000 people came through the doors, many of them wanting to swap jobs. Thanks to the Government, things are moving very much in the right direction. Meanwhile, the Government are expanding the new enterprise allowance scheme, which is designed to improve young people’s entrepreneurial skills. What is the Minister’s assessment of how that is going?

My hon. Friend is another Conservative Member who is doing a great deal in his area. He has got together 2,000 people from his local community—job seekers and businesses—and has found everyone work. He is right: youth unemployment has fallen by 28% over the year, and long-term youth unemployment in his area has fallen by 26%. The new enterprise allowance scheme is expanding—2,000 young people have already set up businesses in that way—and we are investing more money by extending the scheme until December 2015.

The December report of the Office for Budget Responsibility increased its projection for increased spend on housing benefit by £1.8 billion between March and December and attributes half of that to people in employment who will have to claim housing benefit. Is not the truth that because of low hours and wages, savings in one respect are simply popping out as increased spending in another?

That is not the case. We want to look at the numbers. If we look at the spend on housing benefit, we see that it doubled under Labour from £12 billion to £24 billion. What we have got to do is look in the round at those people who are in overcrowded housing and those on waiting lists as well as those who have got houses that are bigger than they necessarily need and yet the taxpayer is funding all of it. The figures are right: the cost doubled under Labour’s watch.

What plans does the Minister have to tackle the new record level of people wanting full-time work but only able to get part-time work? That went up in the most recent statistics to 1.47 million. It is the highest level it has ever been. What is the Minister going to do about it?

Actually, in the last three months the vast majority of people who got jobs were getting not only full-time jobs but also permanent full-time jobs, and three out of every four jobs have been full-time.

22. For the past three years running I have had an apprentice caseworker in my office who has been an A-level school-leaver. Does my hon. Friend agree that having apprenticeships perhaps before university is an opportunity for young people to get on to the road to work by getting some work experience and that that is an incredibly valuable experience for young people that more and more of them are taking advantage of? (901915)

I totally agree with my hon. Friend who set up one of the biggest and best job clubs in her area, supporting people into work. Work experience is key and it does not matter whether people are on their way to university or just wanting to get into a job because this helps in understanding what jobs they want to do and what jobs they do not want to do. Around 113,000 people have gone through work experience and over 50% of them have ended up in a job. My hon. Friend is right to sing the praises of work experience.