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[un-allotted half day] — Unemployment

Part of Opposition Day – in the House of Commons at 2:36 pm on 14th December 2011.

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Photo of Liam Byrne Liam Byrne Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions 2:36 pm, 14th December 2011

I will in a moment.

Amid these difficulties, people in this country expect the Minister for work to do something about it, and I think that I speak for many Members of the House when I say that most right-thinking people in this country believe that the Government should be doing more to get people back to work.

During Work and Pensions questions a month ago I pressed the Secretary of State to tell us what exactly he is doing to get Britain back to work. A vast constellation of initiatives was set out, including work clubs, work experience, apprenticeship offers, sector-based work academies, the innovation fund, the European social fund, the skills offer, the access to apprenticeships programme, Work Together, the Work programme, Work Choice and mandatory work activity. Listening to that list, I became slightly puzzled. With such sweat being worked up at the Department for unemployment, surely we could expect the country’s unemployed to be positively flowing back into jobs. Members can imagine my surprise when I saw the Office for Budget Responsibility’s forecast that, amid that blizzard of initiatives, unemployment is forecast to go up. How can that be?

We asked the Secretary of State to tell us just how many jobs have been created by this glorious expenditure of energy at his Department. This is what we were told in a written answer in Hansard . On Work Choice, no statistics will be available until spring 2012. On mandatory work activity, no statistics will be available until February 2012. On work clubs,

“the data requested are… not available.”

On work experience, a link was provided to a website that says nothing about jobs actually created. On apprenticeship offers, we were told:

“Information on the number of people placed in work through apprenticeship offers… is not available.”

On sector-based work academies, we were told that

“there is no national requirement for districts to record and report job outcomes achieved.”

On the skills offer, “information… is not available.” On Work Together,

“the data requested are not available.”

On the innovation fund,

“no young people have been placed into work at this point.”—[Hansard, 21 November 2011; Vol. 536, c. 122W.]

Here we are, with unemployment going through the roof and the OBR telling us that unemployment is forecast to rise again next year, but despite the multiplicity of schemes laid out by the Secretary of State, who cannot be bothered even to come along to the debate, he cannot tell us how many people are going into work as a result of the spending his Department has in place, with the exception of one programme. The one initiative—it is buried in his answer in Hansard—run by his Department that he can claim is actually creating jobs is the programme financed by the European Union. He said:

European Social Fund support has achieved 75,671 job outcomes from July 2008 to October 2011.”—[Hansard, 21 November 2011; Vol. 536, c. 122W.]

No doubt that is why he is urging his right hon. Friend the Prime Minister to get the hell out of the EU.