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Workless Households

Volume 609: debated on Monday 9 May 2016

The number of workless households has reached its lowest level since records began, and the latest figures show that it has fallen by more than three quarters of a million since 2010. That demonstrates that not only is our approach to the economy working, but, crucially, more families are benefiting from the security and dignity that work brings.

Does the Secretary of State agree that too many people are suffering as a result of drug and alcohol abuse, which is preventing them from returning to work? Does he agree that helping those people to become drug and alcohol-free is essential, and will he visit the Burton Addiction Centre to see how we can transform lives, help people to become free of addiction, and get them back into work?

My hon. Friend has asked an excellent question. As he probably knows, I visited the BAC O’Connor Centre in Newcastle-under-Lyme two weeks ago, and saw for myself a group of addicts in recovery who were making that difficult journey back into work. Many of those people are motivated by voluntary work placements and the goal of achieving a paid job when they finish. Their dream is getting into paid work, and the work of rehabilitation and recovery centres like BAC O’Connor Centre is crucial in that regard.

Does the Secretary of State accept that even in areas where unemployment levels are lower than they have been recently, high levels persist in some wards? Will he agree to work with Labour’s newly elected Welsh Assembly, and to note the position in the Flint Castle ward in my constituency? The level of unemployment there is still high, but Welsh Assembly policies have helped to reduce it over many years, and Labour was rewarded with a good victory last Thursday.

The right hon. Gentleman knows very well that I have a pretty good track record of working with the Welsh Government, whoever is in power. As for his important point about entrenched and persistent poverty, it is absolutely right for us to take account of that. We will shortly be launching a life chances strategy in which, for the very first time, the complex underlying factors that lead to persistent pockets of entrenched poverty in wards such as those to which he has referred will be genuinely addressed.