Although I welcome the record unemployment figures that the Minister has given this morning, youth unemployment is still higher in my constituency and in Scotland than the UK average, so I ask him to work with me and others across the House to encourage more investment in my constituency and in Scotland as a whole.
I will be very happy to work with my hon. Friend, because we recognise that work is the best route out of poverty. Indeed, unemployed households are 13 times more likely to be in relative poverty than those with people in full-time work.
I understand what the Minister says about less unemployment, but my concern is that this is not just about employment, but about retention. Does he agree that now is the time for hard-working, tax-paying public sector workers to get the pay rise that they have earned, and that he should scrap the cap?
We can see the effects, were we to follow the hon. Lady’s policy, by looking at youth unemployment rates elsewhere in Europe. In Greece it is 45.9%, and even in France it is 22%. The best way of addressing poverty is by keeping young people in work.
Government investment in Cheltenham’s cyber-accelerator since 2015 is now yielding results, with numerous cyber start-ups benefiting from local mentoring from experts at GCHQ. Does my hon. Friend agree that mobilising the UK’s sovereign expertise in areas such as cyber boosts jobs for young people and opportunity in places such as Cheltenham?
The GCHQ cyber-accelerator in Cheltenham is part of the Government’s £1.9 billion cyber-security strategy. It allows business start-ups to gain access to GCHQ’s world-class personnel and expertise, and the accelerator helps these businesses to expand, contributing to jobs and opportunities, including in Cheltenham, and it makes the UK a safer place online. I know that my hon. Friend has worked very hard on this for a considerable period of time. He makes an important point as he speaks up for his constituency, and how it is leading in the UK and across the world.
Actually, we are seeing record numbers of people, in particular disadvantaged students, going to university. The situation will not be helped if people are conned with the idea that student debts will be written off.
Well, that was a first in this place, certainly during my time in the Chair: I have never known a ministerial swap to take place mid-answer. I assume that it was inadvertent; the Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury is nothing if not immaculate in his parliamentary manners. I put it down to error. But I hope that the Ministers know their own identities. I would be worried for them if they did not.