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Amendment of the Law

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:28 pm on 24th March 2011.

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Photo of Chuka Umunna Chuka Umunna Labour, Streatham 5:28 pm, 24th March 2011

Before I make my substantive point, let me make two observations, on growth and employment and on business confidence.

I do not think there is any disagreement between the two sides of the House on the need to reduce our debts. The controversial issue is the time frame within which we should do that. If we want to reduce the deficit, we will obviously need to produce growth and jobs, because people who are out of work do not pay income tax and we have to pay benefit. I believe that the cost of every 100,000 people out of work is about £500 million in benefit payments. According to the latest figures, 4,000 people in my constituency are claiming jobseeker’s allowance. I hope that we can get them back to work very soon.

The Office for Budget Responsibility’s downgrading of the growth forecast has been widely reported, but its revision of its autumn estimate of the number of jobseeker’s allowance claimants has not been commented on. The OBR revised upwards its forecast of the number of JSA claimants in this year and the following four years. For this year, unemployment has been revised upwards, and the number of people claiming JSA has been revised up by 50,000 compared with the autumn forecast. For next year, the forecast has been revised up by 120,000, and for 2013 it has been revised up by 130,000.