The UK has the joint fifth lowest unemployment rate in the EU—better than France, the Netherlands and Denmark. The UK’s unemployment rate, at 4.3%, is the lowest in 42 years. It is less than half that of the euro area, which is 8.7%, and 3 percentage points below the EU28 average of 7.3%.
Unemployment in my constituency of Chelmsford is now less than 1.5%, and those who are able to work are finding jobs, but will the Secretary of State reassure my constituents who need our financial support that they will continue to be supported when universal credit is rolled out later this year?
I congratulate my hon. Friend on the work she is doing as a new MP, and her constituents on the work they are doing to find employment, getting on in their careers and moving forward. As I have said, this Government believe in hand-up support and opportunity. The support of universal credit—a benefit that supports people in and out of work—will continue not only for her constituents, but for people right across the country.
Will the Secretary of State confirm that of those who have gone into work as a result of this Government’s policies—and that is a good thing—many are living in poverty because of low pay and the inadequacy of our benefits system?
It is interesting how differently people measure getting into work, poverty and life chances. Children born into workless households are actually five times more likely to be in poverty than those in working households. Under this Government, we have seen 3.1 million more people in work, and the number of workless households has gone down by over 600,000. We are helping people out of poverty: we are helping them get a job.
Earlier the Secretary of State mentioned dodgy statistics from the Opposition. I have heard people say that lots of the new jobs created are on zero-hours contracts and for part-time work. Can she say what the actual figures are for the number of jobs created that are full-time, permanent jobs?
It was not me talking about dodgy statistics, it was the chair of the UK stats authority who said that, but I thank my hon. Friend for pointing that out. The overwhelming majority of jobs are full-time and permanent jobs, and the vast majority of those in part-time jobs have chosen to be in part-time jobs.
On job searching, has the Secretary of State had the opportunity to review the very helpful and generous offer made by Liverpool City Council to her predecessor to provide office space for closure-threatened jobcentres? There are two jobcentres in my constituency—not one, but two—that her Government wish to close, leaving my constituency with zero jobcentres. They are due to close in just a few weeks’ time. Has the Secretary of State had an opportunity to review that offer, to ensure that my constituents continue to receive employment support?
It is really important that everybody gets the support they need, and a lot of the support going forward will be outreach work, so that people do not need to go to Jobcentre Plus, thanks to further support in the community. Obviously I am pleased that in the Liverpool city area—and in the north-west area—which is my hometown, employment is now far higher than it was in 2010. The unemployment rate under the Labour party was 2.8 million in 2008, even before the banking crisis, but now it is 1.4 million, so we are supporting people and we will continue to support people, because that is what this Conservative Government do.