[un-allotted half day] — Unemployment

Part of Opposition Day – in the House of Commons at 3:45 pm on 14th December 2011.

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Photo of Kevin Barron Kevin Barron Chair, Standards and Privileges Committee, Chair, Standards and Privileges Committee 3:45 pm, 14th December 2011

May I give David T. C. Davies a little history of how the economy is affected from time to time in the United Kingdom, as it has been for centuries and will carry on being, because unforeseen things come along and rock economies, as we experienced in 2008-09 under the previous Labour Government? That should not cloud the issues before us in the motion that my Front Benchers have tabled and I support, because the figure of 2.638 million unemployed people in this country represents a massive amount of human suffering, costs the economy and will go on doing so for generations if it is not tackled. The hon. Gentleman asked whether people are leaving school with the right language, literature and other skills to go into the workplace, but, having been a Member for 28 years, I have listened to such debates, and at certain points we decided to tackle the major issues that needed to be tackled in order to ease the problems that mass unemployment has caused.

Today’s rise in unemployment is our biggest since July 1994. The regional breakdown for Yorkshire and Humberside shows that employment—not unemployment—has fallen by 70,000 over the last quarter; that unemployment has increased by 9,000 on the previous quarter; that it stands at 253,000; and that the number of people claiming jobseeker’s allowance has increased by 500 on the previous month. That tells me and most people that there is something seriously wrong with the path that the Government are taking to turn the economy around, and that a large amount of money will have to be paid from the public purse to keep the figures as they are.

Youth unemployment went up by 54,000 in the three months to October and now stands at more than 1 million, the highest level since comparable records began in 1992. I brought the matter up at Prime Minister’s Question Time today, noting that more than 22% of 16 to 24-year-olds who could be economically active are unemployed, an increase of 1.2% on the previous quarter. That has major implications for the British economy and, certainly, for young people.

Long-term youth unemployment has gone up to 141,200, the highest level since July 1997, and by 68,000 alone since January, a rise of 93%.