[un-allotted half day] — Unemployment

Part of Opposition Day – in the House of Commons at 4:59 pm on 14th December 2011.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Fiona O'Donnell Fiona O'Donnell Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) 4:59 pm, 14th December 2011

What I had really hoped for was a little humility. We have been preached to about humility, but the hon. Lady completely failed to recognise that there are financial services sector jobs in other parts of the country. My constituency is heavily dependent on the financial services sector in Edinburgh, and we will see what happens. The signs since this Government came into office have not been good.

The Government offer us the Work programme. I have been to visit the providers in my constituency. A woman opened up a spreadsheet and said she was not sure whether she was meant to show me it. It was, in effect, a profit and loss account showing at each quarter how many people the providers need to help into work to get a return on the payments from the Government. The most depressing thing was seeing the percentage they expected not to find their way in to work at the end of the two years.

My fear is that providers will not invest the resources in supporting that percentage, whom we could probably all identify when they walk in the door, when they are the very people who need more help and support to take them back into work. This is where the Government do not get it.

I remember during the 1997 general election knocking on a door and meeting a woman who was still in her pyjamas in the early afternoon and trying to convince her that she could get out, vote Labour and make a difference. She did not even have a reason to get dressed. When Government Members hear of a case like that, they think in terms of a drain on resources, and resentment and a grudging feeling come over them. They do not think about how to support someone like that and what it might mean for someone to have reached that low point in their life when they do not think that they have any contribution to make to society.

I am also particularly concerned about the increase of 55% in the number of young people in my constituency who have faced no prospect of finding work since this Government came into power. The future jobs fund gave them hope. Government Members keep yelling that it did not lead to real jobs, but the hon. Member for Cardiff Central, to give her credit again for bringing some reason into the debate, talked about the elements of the fund. She described eloquently how it helped young people to break the habit of not getting up in the morning, to gain self-esteem and to feel not only supported but understood.

We take no joy in the Government’s failure to address the needs of people who are seeking work, or to create the jobs that could lift them out of poverty. It is not a price worth paying for the political advantage that we are benefiting from.