The latest Office for National Statistics labour market figures show a level of unemployment of 1.6 million. This has increased by around 260,000 since the start of the pandemic. As part of our plan for jobs package, the DWP has launched new programmes, including kickstart, JETS and the job finding support service to help people who have been impacted by the pandemic to find new employment.
My hon. Friend will be aware that since March, because of covid, youth unemployment in my constituency of Harlow has, sadly, risen by 134%. Will my hon. Friend pay tribute to the extraordinary work of the Harlow jobcentre, and to the education, skills and training provided by Harlow further education college, which will be at the forefront of creating jobs? Can she set out how Harlow businesses can access the kickstart scheme and the apprentice funding announced by the Chancellor?
I join my right hon. Friend in paying tribute to the hard work and commitment of the Harlow jobcentre staff throughout these difficult times. We are in active discussions on a new DWP youth hub in Harlow. Those at Harlow jobcentre, alongside our 600-plus other jobcentres, do an immense job daily, encouraging and helping our most vulnerable claimants and supporting all individuals based on their circumstances, and that is where kickstart and other programmes will come in. Jobcentres do work locally with external partners—with charities, local employers and key organisations across Harlow and elsewhere—on local recovery plans and local needs.