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Youth Unemployment

Volume 578: debated on Monday 31 March 2014

Thanks to the Government’s long-term economic plan, youth unemployment is falling. I am particularly pleased that long-term youth unemployment has fallen by 38,000 over the last year. In my hon. Friend’s constituency, long-term youth unemployment has gone down by 38% in the past year.

Will the Minister congratulate, with gusto, local businesses, Jobcentre Plus, Selby college and York college for their efforts in ensuring that tremendous fall in youth unemployment since the last election in Selby and Ainsty?

My hon. Friend said that with such gusto that I do not think I could top it. Employment and enterprise is important to him—at age 26, he set up his own telecommunications company with the aid of a Government enterprise grant, so he knows what he is talking about—and he is helping lots of people in his constituency.

Of the young people the Minister just mentioned who have a job, how many have gone on to work on zero-hours contracts?

As the hon. Lady will know, the number of zero-hours contracts has remained fairly stable since 2000. They are called zero hours or casual hours, and they are used by Liverpool city council and Wirral council, which are Labour run. The worst council for using them is Doncaster.

We are having a full review of zero-hours contracts, and if they are exploitative we will bring about changes. Our report is due in July—something that Labour did not do for 13 years.

Thanks to the new enterprise allowance scheme, more than 1,000 people in Leeds have met a business mentor and 490 have set up a new business, including 40 in my constituency. Does my right hon. Friend agree that that shows small businesses driving our economy and getting people back to work?

I agree with my hon. Friend. New enterprises are starting up because of the new sense of confidence and optimism in the economy. The extra support that we are putting in place—checking business plans and providing support through mentors—is really paying dividends.

Some 180 young people in my constituency have been out of work for one year or longer. Can the Minister explain to the young man I met two weekends ago—he has been out of work for 18 months and is desperate to find a job—how the Government were so quick to give the banks a tax concession in the Budget, but are so slow to introduce a proper jobs guarantee plan for young people across the country?

I would like to have a word with the young chap you are talking about, because I would like to give him hope and optimism, which is something that you are distinctly not giving—[Interruption.] I apologise, Mr Speaker. I do not mean your good self: I mean the hon. Gentleman. That young chap needs hope and optimism, and he needs to know what is happening in the rest of the country, because other people are getting jobs. Youth unemployment—including long-term unemployment—has gone down, and if the young chap sticks with it and gives it a go, he will get there in the end. That is the best news that I can give him. It is far better under this Government than it was under the Labour Government, when youth unemployment went up by 45%.