I am proud of the efforts of this Government that have seen youth unemployment in Wales fall by 46% over the course of this Parliament. I have discussed with the Welsh Government the support that is available to help people into work to ensure that there is a coherent and joined-up approach in Wales.
The Jobs Growth Wales scheme has been popular with employers—it is a wage subsidy, so of course employers like it. It is important to recognise that Jobs Growth Wales is for people who are so-called job-ready. An independent evaluation by Ipsos MORI, which was commissioned by the Welsh Government, found that 73% of people who found work through Jobs Growth Wales would have found work anyway. That raises questions about whether it is a good use of taxpayers’ money.
Jobs Growth Wales has created more than 400 jobs for young people in Blaenau Gwent. However, people need to be able to get to the jobs market on the coast in Cardiff and Newport. Given that the funding is now agreed, when will the valley lines electrification be completed?
I am pleased that the hon. Gentleman has referred to the valleys electrification project. It was a great achievement of this Government, along with the Welsh Government, to secure a deal to deliver electrification not just of the great western line to Swansea but, crucially, through to the valleys communities as well. We look forward to work starting on that project, subject to the Welsh Government agreeing the details, in 2018-19.
Does my right hon. Friend agree that it is not just Jobs Growth Wales but the coalition Government’s long-term economic plan that has delivered the unprecedented falls in youth unemployment, and that the binary choice that will be presented to the people of Wales on
As ever, the Chairman of the Welsh Affairs Committee is exactly right. He expresses the situation perfectly. What puts at risk all the great progress we have made in cutting long-term and youth unemployment across Wales is the prospect of a Labour Government who have no plan and no vision for the Welsh economy.
Will my right hon. Friend note that in my constituency unemployment has fallen by more than 30% since my election? Will he take every opportunity to remind the electorate and the House of something that has been true throughout the 23 years since I was first elected to the House, which is that every Labour Government have left office with unemployment higher than when they came to office?
My hon. Friend should take pride in his record. On his watch, the falls in unemployment in Cardiff North have been truly impressive over the past five years. I know that Craig Williams, our excellent Conservative candidate in Cardiff North, will carry on the good work through all the excellent contacts he has with businesses across the city.
Given the 80% success rate of the Labour Welsh Government’s Jobs Growth Wales programme and the Secretary of State’s new-found enthusiasm for devolution, why did he not include in his St David’s day announcement the devolution of the Work programme, which, under his Government, gets only a miserable 10% of clients into work in Wales and is clearly failing people in Wales?
I thank the hon. Lady for that question. The crucial point is that the Work programme was brought forward by the coalition Government—the UK Government—and has helped more than 17,000 people in Wales who had been unemployed for the longest periods. Let us not forget how complacent the previous Labour Government were about long-term unemployment in Wales: the rate of long-term unemployment increased by more than 160% on their watch.