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Supporting People into Work

Volume 682: debated on Monday 19 October 2020

This Government are working hard to help people into work with our £30 billion plan for jobs. Kickstart will provide a high-quality paid work placement for young people across the UK, and our new job entry targeted support scheme—JETS—will help those who have been unemployed for more than three months move into new and growing sectors. Our additional job finding support service will provide targeted support for the newly unemployed, with local provisions available now and a national contract due in place from 21 January.

In Carshalton and Wallington, we know that the self-employed are the risk takers, and the pandemic has shown that we need to be there for them. Work coaches have done a good job of knowing what is fair and reasonable and are able to apply discretion when setting work search requirements, so will my hon. Friend assure me that self-employed claimants will also benefit from this personalised, discretionary approach as the minimum income floor is reintroduced?

I can assure my hon. Friend that claimants will always be contacted before the minimum income floor is applied to them. Universal credit claimants who were subject to the minimum income floor prior to the pandemic will be given the opportunity to review their self-employment status and activity, ensuring that their current circumstances are reflected and their business continues to be viable before any reintroduction of the MIF. My hon. Friend will be aware that the regulations to relax the MIF are in place until November, and I will update the House on arrangements beyond that in due course.

I joined my caseworker on a recent covid-safe visit to Huddersfield jobcentre, which is rolling out a seven-day-a-week operation to support jobseekers. Will the Minister join me in thanking all the team at Huddersfield jobcentre and continue to give them all the support required as they recruit the extra staff they need to support my constituents into work via kickstart and other schemes?

I am more than happy to extend my great thanks to the DWP team in Huddersfield, as well as their new colleagues. They have done sterling work in setting up a new youth hub with Kirklees Council, as well as other activities involving kickstart, using sector-based work academy programmes—SWAPs—and mentoring circles and working with local employers to help more people in Huddersfield back into work.

Does the Minister share my concern that young people in Bolsover and elsewhere are at risk of being held back by the coronavirus pandemic? Will she commit to doing everything possible to ensure that opportunities are available to enable them to move forward in their careers and ensure that they reach their potential?

In September 2020, we started the implementation of our new DWP youth offer for all 18 to 24-year-olds making a claim for universal credit who are in the intensive work search group. We are on track in our ambitious plan for young people to open around 100 DWP-led youth hubs nationally, and many are already in place, supporting our young people to progress.