Jobs and Social Security

Part of Opposition Day — [11th Allotted Day] – in the House of Commons at 5:09 pm on 28th November 2012.

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Photo of Barry Sheerman Barry Sheerman Labour, Huddersfield 5:09 pm, 28th November 2012

That is why I spoke of our experience in the United Kingdom, which has good exemplars of significant improvement, but the best example that I found in Europe was in the Netherlands, which has a much tougher welfare policy than us. It is difficult for someone to get any welfare payment there until they are about 27. If they are not in work, they have to be in education or training, and if they are not in education or training, they do not get a welfare payment. We in this country seem to have accepted over a long period that significant numbers of young people, many of them with low skills, can be left in a shadow land—a marginal existence—on housing benefit and a little benefit for subsistence, and that they can live in this half world as half citizens for a very long time.

During one of my shadow ministerial jobs a long time ago—it was so long ago that I was a deputy to Roy Hattersley—I became something of an expert on crime and criminality. It is fascinating that if young people do not get into crime before they are 25, they do not at all; unless they bump off their partner for the usual reason later on, they do not get into criminality. The sensible policy on deterring young people from crime is to spend money on doing so early on. We can apply the same analysis of our society to unemployment. What we hate most is intergenerational worklessness, where three generations of a family have never known anyone work.