I am a little bit lost. I am not sure whether the hon. Gentleman is saying that the previous Prime Minister was claiming credit when he was Chancellor in the previous—[Interruption.] If he is referring to my right hon. and learned Friend Mr Clarke, it is difficult for the previous Labour Government to claim credit when their Chief Secretary left a letter on the desk saying, “There’s no money left.” If the hon. Gentleman wants to claim credit for that, I will certainly allow him to intervene.
While the Budget proposed new measures to boost growth and support private sector job creation, in turn increasing employment, the Opposition’s only alternative, the jobs guarantee, it now turns out, is more like a no-jobs guarantee—a make-work scheme that the Institute of Directors has said is
“not the source of sustainable jobs”.
It is the kind of scheme that, for the past 20 years, the OECD has demonstrated is expensive and counter-productive in the long term. It says that large deadweight losses, displacement and substitution effects are of little success in helping unemployed people to get permanent jobs in the open labour market. We got rid of the Opposition’s last scheme, which did not work, and this one will fare no better. Labour’s flagship programme is just a rehash of the failed make-work schemes that seem to be its solution almost every time.
Rachel Reeves made this comment about Jobs Growth Wales:
“I went to see a scheme very similar to this in Wales last week and...that’s what we would aim to do across the UK”.
If that is what she thinks she is going to do, let us deal with what Jobs Growth Wales actually produces. It has been revealed to be an expensive exercise in cherry-picking the best-quality people who want to go back to work. Far from being a guarantee for all, which I understood was her policy, the hardest to help are not eligible for the programme, and only one in three applicants has got a place on it. A success rate of 80%, at a cost of £6,000 per place, is trumpeted, yet that compares with the 90% success rate of all—not some of—the eligible people in Wales who apply, who move off jobseeker’s allowance within nine months anyway. The reality is that this programme, on top of already successful programmes getting people into work, is less successful than the programme that it seeks to replace. Apparently, this is the programme that the Opposition want to copy and turn into a national programme in government, and it is all a rehash of the future jobs fund.
In the public sector, this Government have achieved the same success as the future jobs fund achieved through work experience in the private sector, but—here is the key—at a twentieth of the cost of what it cost Labour to provide jobs in the public sector. That is the problem with this make-work scheme.