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Supporting People into Work

Volume 721: debated on Monday 31 October 2022

Unemployment is at 3.5%. That is the lowest in nearly 50 years. We have recruited an extra 13,000-plus job coaches and are taking specific action to ensure that we are rolling out our new in-work progression offer.

Loughborough jobcentre is doing a great job in supporting new and fledging business owners to become gainfully self-employed. What steps is the Department for Work and Pensions taking across the country to help support small business owners and to support the growth and development of the self-employed across the UK?

I thank the staff at Loughborough jobcentre. My hon. Friend is absolutely right: they are doing an outstanding job and I know they usually hold a very successful jobs fair. On the self-employed nationwide, universal credit gives them a 12-month start-up period to grow their earnings to a sustainable level. We believe that is the way forward.

To try to help fill the very many vacancies that exist in a number of industries, will the Minister have discussions with fellow Ministers in the Treasury to see if more changes to the tax system can be brought in to really make sure that work does pay?

I completely agree with my hon. Friend, who makes a very good point. It is absolutely the case that we are working on that. I highlight in particular the taper rate, which was reduced from 63% to 55%, but also the additional work we are putting into job coaches, the sector-based work academy and the increased work allowance, which makes sure that individuals get an extra £1,000.

One of the things preventing people from getting back into work is waiting for operations, thanks to the massive NHS backlog. One thing making that even worse is that lots of doctors are retiring early because they are worried about the pension cap issue. When will the Government rectify that issue, so that more doctors can stay in the profession, more people can get their operations quickly and more people can get back into work?

I appreciate that this is a genuine issue. The Treasury is looking specifically at the high earners pension situation. I am sure the Treasury will get back on that very shortly.