[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, but first I want to make one point about the Work programme.

The Work programme is a new scheme that builds on the flexible new deal. We have said that if it works and delivers value for money we will keep it in place, but the Minister must accept that worries about the programme are growing. [ Interruption. ] I am delighted that the Secretary of State has been able to join us to hear this important point. The Minister for unemployment has repeatedly told the House that he cannot produce statistics on how well the Work programme is doing, and I completely understand his caution. I think that he is the only Minister who has been formally warned by the chairman of the UK Statistics Authority, who last year said that the Minister’s use of figures was

“likely to damage public trust in official statistics”.

No doubt he has repented for that sin and is seeking redemption, and I understand that he apologised and is certain not to repeat the offence. If the Work programme was working, surely the Department’s statistics would show that more and more people were flowing off benefits and into work. That is a simple test we can apply, but the problem is that the figures do not show that.