Employment Opportunities (Northern Region)

Oral Answers to Questions — Work and Pensions – in the House of Commons at 2:30 pm on 26 January 2015.

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Photo of Barry Sheerman Barry Sheerman Labour, Huddersfield 2:30, 26 January 2015

What steps he is taking to improve job opportunities in (a) Huddersfield and (b) the northern region.

Photo of Esther McVey Esther McVey Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)

As part of this Government’s long-term economic plan, we are committed to developing the northern powerhouse. We are investing heavily in infrastructure, science and technology, and culture to rebalance the economy by closing the long-term gap between the north and south—something the Opposition did not manage to do.

Photo of Barry Sheerman Barry Sheerman Labour, Huddersfield

Some of us are a little wary of short-term gimmicks, especially short-term jobs fairs. In Huddersfield we have had an Enterprise Foundation promoting small business start-ups that last, and it continues to be very effective. Has the Minister seen the Centre for Cities report, which shows clearly that the investment and job growth seem to be largely, though not entirely, in London and the south-east? If she looks at the report, she will see that it is the great northern industrial cities that have suffered over a number of years. What is she doing about that?

Photo of Esther McVey Esther McVey Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)

Again, I am delighted to answer the question; again, the information was out of date. The information for that report closed in 2013 and covered the previous 10-year period, when the Government whom the hon. Gentleman supported were in office. The latest figures would show that 60% of jobs created are outside London and the south-east. I know that the hon. Gentleman, as the previous Chair of the Education Committee, takes a keen interest in opportunities for young people, so I hope he will welcome the latest announcement from Yorkshire Water that it will create 160 apprenticeships.

Photo of Jason McCartney Jason McCartney Conservative, Colne Valley

Will the Minister join me in thanking Huddersfield job centre, which supported my jobs fairs in Holmfirth and Marsden last year, giving local people access to real jobs and apprenticeships? Will she note that the 4,130 apprenticeship starts in my constituency since 2010?

Photo of Esther McVey Esther McVey Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)

Indeed. I congratulate my hon. Friend’s local jobcentre and him on all the work he does. Those were over 4,000 apprenticeships in his constituency, but at the end of last year there were 2 million new apprenticeships for young people right across the country. That is why we have seen the biggest fall in youth unemployment since records began.

Photo of David Nuttall David Nuttall Conservative, Bury North

Does my right hon. Friend agree that the best way to improve job opportunities for people in the north of England is for Government to reduce tax and red tape on businesses to give them the opportunity to create new businesses, and to ensure that the Government always make it pay to be in work, not on benefits?

Photo of Esther McVey Esther McVey Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)

Once again, my hon. Friend speaks sound sense. That is exactly what this Government have been trying to do. We have been working with businesses, finding out what they need to expand and grow and to take on young people. As we have seen, growth is increasing. We are now growing faster than any other country in the G7. We know that not only are wages going up by 2%, but they are destined to go up by 3.4%, and inflation has fallen by 0.5%. If anybody had a long-term economic plan, it is this Government.