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Employment Figures

Volume 578: debated on Monday 31 March 2014

We have record numbers of people in work, and the numbers are rising. Youth unemployment has fallen for six consecutive months. There are record rates of women in work and increasing numbers of people setting up in business. We are most definitely seeing a new enterprise generation.

Since 2010, unemployment in Brentford and Isleworth has reduced by 21% and youth unemployment by 29%. Will the Minister join me in welcoming this, and in inviting everyone in west London to my third jobs and apprenticeships fair on Friday at West Thames college?

I would indeed invite as many people as possible to go along to my hon. Friend’s job fair—her third one. She does so much to help her young people to get into work, and she works to support women into work, which must be acknowledged, particularly as we are now seeing record rates of women in work.

In my constituency, there have been 60 new enterprise allowance take-ups, and there have been 200 across the borough of Enfield. Will the Minister update me on her plans for continuing that scheme? Will she also update the House on the scheme’s progress across the country?

My hon. Friend makes a good point. The new enterprise allowance has been a huge success. The latest figures, which came out last week, show that 40,000 people have set up businesses in that way. It is now running at 2,000 new businesses a month. That is because we support those businesses financially, but it is also because we support them with strong mentoring. Equally, at the very beginning, they must have a good business plan. New enterprise allowances are here, and they are staying.

Unemployment in the Vale of Glamorgan has dropped by more than 27% since the general election. Does that not demonstrate that UK employment growth is happening in all nations and regions? We should be celebrating the fact that the economy is growing outside London and the south-east as well as growing in that region.

I totally agree with my hon. Friend. He is right. As I have said, new enterprise generation stretches across the UK. Long-term youth unemployment in his constituency is down by 28%. I hope it will go down a little bit more and reach the national average—youth unemployment is down by 32% nationally—but a lot of good things are going on across the country.

22. Despite all the talk of new jobs, 2.3 million people are still unemployed, only 58% of whom are on the jobseeker’s allowance claimant count, which suggests that it is not the generosity of benefits that is keeping people out of work. What steps are the Government taking to get that number down? (903391)

I do not know whether the hon. Lady was smiling when she was describing all the good news that is happening. There is a record number of people into employment—over 30 million—youth unemployment has gone down for six consecutive months, and there is a record number of women in work. Perhaps she did not hear that, which is why I have repeated the good news that our long-term economic plan is working.

But in reality, is it not true that long-term unemployment is rising, and that youth unemployment has doubled in the past six months, all because the Government are carrying out a policy whereby, at the next general election, good, secure, well-paid and skilled jobs in the public sector will have been slashed by 1 million, all with the goal of getting a low-wage economy in which insecurity is rampant?

The hon. Gentleman spoke with gusto, but that was all he spoke with, because those are not the facts. Long-term unemployment has gone down and more people are in work than ever before. Perhaps he should have read the figures before he stood up to speak.

The Minister spoke of more women than ever in work, which is actually a reflection of the fact that there are more women of working age. She should look at other figures. For the first time in more than 15 years, the gender pay gap is rising, not falling. That is a reflection of women working below their pay grade, training and education, in part-time, low-paid work. What will she do about that?

I have two figures for the hon. Lady. She is correct that there are record numbers, but I also said that there are record rates for women, which is different. That shows that our long-term economic plan is working. There are more women in work than ever before.