HC Deb 17 February 1976 vol 905 cc1112-4
6. Sir A. Meyer

asked the Secretary of State for Employment how many jobs have been created or saved to date as a direct consequence of the Government's job creation programme; at what total cost and at what cost per job; how many redundancies have been notified; and what has been the reduction in the number of vacancies during the same period.

Mr. Harold Walker

I am informed by the Manpower Services Commission that, up to 13th February, 795 projects have been approved under its job creation programme, creating 9,906 jobs at a cost of £11.07 million. This is an average cost per job of £1,101 but the net cost is considerably less when savings in unemployment and supplementary benefit, and statutory deductions, are taken into account.

Redundancies notified in Great Britain between 9th October 1975 and 31st January 1976 affected some 78,000 people.

The seasonally adjusted figure for the reduction in the number of vacancies at employment offices during the period 3rd October 1975 to 2nd January 1976 was 16,500.

Sir A. Meyer

Has it ever occurred to the Minister that if that money were used to cut taxes, especially for small businesses, many more jobs would be created or saved?

Mr. Walker

I should have thought that the whole House would welcome—as I understood the right hon. Member for Lowestoft (Mr. Prior) welcomed—first of all the establishment of the job creation scheme and, second, the considerable progress it is making and assistance it is giving in the areas which have perhaps suffered unemployment most severely. I regret that the hon. Gentleman has taken this line in respect of a project that I should have thought he would have welcomed, especially, in its application to his own area.

Mr. Bagier

Does the Minister agree that many hon. Members will believe that this is money well spent? Does he further agree that in areas of unemployment some of the jobs that have been created—for example youngsters helping in schools with ESN children, and the like—have given youngsters a first-class knowledge not only of working but a social conscience, which they would not have received without the scheme?

Mr. Walker

I wholly share my hon. Friend's view.

Mr. Brittan

I welcome the aims behind the job creation programme, but does the Minister agree that many more jobs could be provided under the programme if the people who obtained the jobs were not paid the full industrial wage? Does he agree that people would be fully prepared to take jobs at a lower wage?

Mr. Walker

I think the whole House would look askance at any idea of employing young people at anything other than the rate for the job. We must be very careful about doing anything that may eventually smack of exploiting unemployed young people as cheap labour.

Mr. Skinner

Does my hon. Friend recall that in 1972, when unemployment reached just over 1 million, the then Secretary of State for the Environment sent out a circular to local authorities asking them to do pretty much what my hon. Friend is now doing? Does he not realise that, arising out of that circular, Clay Cross Council employed men for jobs that were necessary but have now been surcharged £30,000 by the district auditor for carrying out these necessary—

Mr. Speaker


Mr. Walker

I doubt whether my hon. Friend or the House would expect me to comment on the difficulties facing his colleagues at Clay Cross. When Operation Eyesore was introduced it was welcomed by the Labour Party in opposition. We thought it a sensible scheme. It is wrong, to make comparisons between Operation Eyesore and the measures that we are taking now, which go considerably beyond what was then proposed.