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Employment Opportunities (Northern Region)

Volume 591: debated on Monday 26 January 2015

As part of this Government’s long-term economic plan, we are committed to developing the northern powerhouse. We are investing heavily in infrastructure, science and technology, and culture to rebalance the economy by closing the long-term gap between the north and south—something the Opposition did not manage to do.

Some of us are a little wary of short-term gimmicks, especially short-term jobs fairs. In Huddersfield we have had an Enterprise Foundation promoting small business start-ups that last, and it continues to be very effective. Has the Minister seen the Centre for Cities report, which shows clearly that the investment and job growth seem to be largely, though not entirely, in London and the south-east? If she looks at the report, she will see that it is the great northern industrial cities that have suffered over a number of years. What is she doing about that?

Again, I am delighted to answer the question; again, the information was out of date. The information for that report closed in 2013 and covered the previous 10-year period, when the Government whom the hon. Gentleman supported were in office. The latest figures would show that 60% of jobs created are outside London and the south-east. I know that the hon. Gentleman, as the previous Chair of the Education Committee, takes a keen interest in opportunities for young people, so I hope he will welcome the latest announcement from Yorkshire Water that it will create 160 apprenticeships.

Will the Minister join me in thanking Huddersfield job centre, which supported my jobs fairs in Holmfirth and Marsden last year, giving local people access to real jobs and apprenticeships? Will she note the 4,130 apprenticeship starts in my constituency since 2010?

Indeed. I congratulate my hon. Friend’s local jobcentre and him on all the work he does. Those were over 4,000 apprenticeships in his constituency, but at the end of last year there were 2 million new apprenticeships for young people right across the country. That is why we have seen the biggest fall in youth unemployment since records began.

Does my right hon. Friend agree that the best way to improve job opportunities for people in the north of England is for Government to reduce tax and red tape on businesses to give them the opportunity to create new businesses, and to ensure that the Government always make it pay to be in work, not on benefits?

Once again, my hon. Friend speaks sound sense. That is exactly what this Government have been trying to do. We have been working with businesses, finding out what they need to expand and grow and to take on young people. As we have seen, growth is increasing. We are now growing faster than any other country in the G7. We know that not only are wages going up by 2%, but they are destined to go up by 3.4%, and inflation has fallen by 0.5%. If anybody had a long-term economic plan, it is this Government.