Jobs and Social Security

Part of Opposition Day — [11th Allotted Day] – in the House of Commons at 5:42 pm on 28th November 2012.

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Photo of Guto Bebb Guto Bebb Conservative, Aberconwy 5:42 pm, 28th November 2012

Indeed, and that example should be replicated in other parts of the country, where partnership working can make a difference.

Despite a 192% increase in youth unemployment in my constituency of Aberconwy during the last six years of the Labour Government, we have seen a 21% reduction in youth unemployment since this coalition came into play. Twenty-one per cent is not enough—the fact that I still have young people not working in my constituency is unacceptable—but we should recognise the success in getting young people back into employment. Every young person who is not claiming unemployment benefit or lying around doing nothing is a success story as far as I am concerned. When Labour Members talk about youth unemployment, it is important that they consider their performance in government.

However, I suspect that this debate is more about the Work programme than about the general context. I have talked about the general context, but it is important to bear in mind that the Work programme is the Department’s flagship programme, and a lot rests on its success. My concern is that this debate is premature, because it is difficult to look at a long-term programme—which is looking at paying people based on their performance over the long term, not the short term—and say after a year that it is failing. Even going on the figures that came out yesterday, it looks as though the programme is doing exactly as it was supposed to be doing. They show that 56% of Work programme starters in June 2011 are no longer on benefit, that 30% of them have been off benefit for 15 weeks and that 19% have been off benefit for 26 weeks.