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Employment Figures

Volume 583: debated on Tuesday 24 June 2014

There are more people in work than ever before, with the latest figures showing the fastest increase in employment since records began. Today we have the very welcome news that Abu Dhabi will be investing £1 billion in building new houses in Manchester. That is a step towards it becoming the northern powerhouse I want to see, and it is a £1 billion vote of confidence in our long-term economic plan.

Between 2003 and 2008 the Labour Government did create jobs, but unfortunately less than 10% of them benefited British citizens. Since this Government have come to power, through our skills, immigration and welfare policies over three-quarters of the 1.4 million new jobs have benefited British citizens. Is that not a long-term economic plan of which to be proud?

My hon. Friend is absolutely right, and I pay tribute to his contribution in making sure that the jobs that are being created in this recovery are jobs that British people have the skills and incentives to take. It is heartening that three-quarters of these jobs are going to UK citizens, as opposed to the truly staggering record of the last Government, when less than a quarter were taken by British citizens.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that there has been a 59.5% fall in the number of jobseeker’s allowance claimants in Warwick and Leamington since April 2010? Also, recent figures show that a record number of companies were formed in Leamington Spa in the first quarter of this year. Will the Chancellor pay tribute to the local council, local chambers of trade and commerce and the local businesses that have made this possible, and will he outline what more can be done to further increase support for businesses in increasing employment?

I certainly pay tribute to the local council and local businesses who have worked with the excellent Member of Parliament, my colleague—[Interruption.] Yes, my hon. Friend has done remarkable work in bringing down the number of people claiming JSA by 60% since this Government came to office, and of course we will go on supporting businesses locally with important infrastructure, with the employment allowance and with awards. As I am sure my hon. Friend will be aware, Dennis Eagle, one of the companies in his constituency, has just been awarded a grant under our advanced manufacturing supply chain initiative, so we are backing manufacturing in the midlands, and backing his constituents all the way.

Sixty percent is a very interesting statistic. Does the Chancellor accept that the number of young people unemployed for more than 12 months has risen by 60% since he became Chancellor?

Youth unemployment is down 100,000 over the last year, and in the hon. Gentleman’s constituency the claimant count is down by 30%. I would have thought he would be welcoming that.

When a proud Kingstanding dad of a newborn baby son tells me he has been on zero-hours contracts for two years and cannot plan from one week to the next, and says “Do them up there”—the Government—“get what life is like down here?”, and when a proud Stockland Green mother caring for her disabled son says, “My husband’s been made redundant twice in the last three years, with each new job less secure and on a lower rate of pay,” and adds, “What planet does the Chancellor live on?”, what does the Chancellor have to say to them?

I would say that through our long-term economic plan we are creating jobs in the hon. Gentleman’s constituency, with the economic security that that brings. We are legislating to deal with the abuse of zero-hours contracts, which for 13 years the Labour party did nothing about, and we have discovered in the last couple of weeks that the shadow Chancellor, who from the Opposition Dispatch Box has criticised zero-hours contracts again and again, uses them in his own office.

If economic growth turns out to be higher than currently estimated, as has been the case in several quarters over the past 18 months, does the Chancellor agree that that might provide part of the answer to the so-called productivity puzzle? Has the Treasury done any work on that question, and does he agree with the Governor of the Bank of England that we need to do a lot more to improve Office for National Statistics data?

I agree with my hon. Friend that one of the big challenges now is to improve productivity, which was clearly impaired by the financial crisis. Obviously, in doing that we need to make sure that the data we receive from our ONS is of the highest quality. People at the ONS work incredibly hard on that, but of course there is always room for improvement, as the Governor of the Bank of England pointed out today, and we will work with the Bank and the ONS to ensure that any improvements that can be made will be made.

Is it not the truth that people in employment have seen their living standards fall year on year under this Chancellor? So can he tell us, will working people be better off next year than they were in 2010—yes or no?

The many thousands of people who are getting jobs in the hon. Lady’s area are better off, and of course—[Interruption.] Let me explain to the shadow Chancellor: if you bring the British economy to its knees, if you have the deepest recession for 100 years, if you preside over the biggest banking crisis in our history, you make this country poorer. But it is by fixing those problems, by working through our long-term economic plan, that we are going to make the country richer again.