HC Deb 21 December 1982 vol 34 cc815-6
8. Mr. John Fraser

asked the Secretary of State for Employment how many people currently are registered as unemployed at employment offices and careers offices in Lambeth; and what was the comparable figure in November 1978.

Mr. Alison

At November 1982 there were 19,072 unemployed claimants, which is the basis of the unemployment count from now on in the jobcentre areas approximating to Lambeth. There is no comparable figure available for November 1978, but on the old basis of the count the number registered as unemployed at that date was 7,419.

Mr. Fraser

Does the Minister recognise that when the figures are adjusted they show a tripling of unemployment over that period? Does the Minister realise that divisive and explosive tensions are created by such massive unemployment figures? When will we have any substantial reduction in them instead of a tax on bodies such as the ILEA and GLC by taking away their rate support grant?

Mr. Alison

The hon. Gentleman knows well that there is an impressive range of special assistance available for London at present, not least the inner city partnership arrangements, the Inner Urban Areas Act 1978 and the urban programme. The urban programme shows a 25 per cent. increase in the current year over the previous one.

Mr. Peter Bottomley

Does my right hon. Friend agree that the only thing that has risen in Lambeth as fast as the level of unemployment has been the level of rates? Will he encourage Lambeth council to tell employers to inform their employees of the rate burden per head and how much it has increased during the past three years?

Mr. Alison

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for mentioning rates. A recent survey conducted by the London chamber of commerce revealed that 38 per cent. of companies had reduced staff as a result of the level of rates, while almost 17 per cent. had moved elsewhere and a further 16 per cent. had decided to run down or close their businesses in London altogether because of rate rises.