The UK female employment rate has never been higher. The latest figures show that there are over 12 million women in employment in England, which is almost 1.4 million more than in 2010. My hon. Friend asks about his constituency. I can give him the figures for the east midlands, where there are 109,000 more women in work since 2010. The number of women claiming unemployment-related benefits in Northampton- shire has dropped by 28% in the last five years.
Against the background of records levels of employment in the Kettering constituency, will the Secretary of State confirm that, whether someone is male or female, young or old, able or disabled, employment prospects in Kettering have never been brighter?
I can confirm that employment prospects have never been brighter in Kettering, particularly with the strong advocacy of such an excellent Member of Parliament.
The hon. Gentleman can luxuriate in the lather of the praise conferred on him by the Secretary of State. Make sure it is bottled and keep it for a long time, man.
The question of women’s employment is very important to me. Is the Secretary of State’s Department doing long-term planning? Has she seen the recent research from Sheffield University and King’s College London that says that the very areas that voted leave will be the hardest hit post-Brexit, with a 17% to 20% decrease in GDP? Is her Department getting ready for this terrible situation?
I would like to reassure the hon. Gentleman that we are ensuring that we are prepared for any situation, whether that is leaving the European Union or changes to the workplace in general. We are working closely with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to ensure that we are prepared for changes to employment structures, and I have been making some comments on that issue recently to ensure that the necessary training is provided in the workplace in the private sector as well as the assistance that we can give.