3. Mr. Ron Brown
asked the Paymaster General how many people under the age of 25 years are currently unemployed in the United Kingdom.
§ The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Employment (Mr. John Lee)
On 8 January 1987 the number of unemployed claimants in the United Kingdom aged under 25 years was 1,133,000.
Judging from the figures obviously the Minister must realise that many youngsters these days leave school with no job, hope or future. Does he realise—I am sure he does—that in Leith 40 per cent. of the long-term unemployed are under the age of 25? Will he therefore use YTS funds to create real jobs, for example, by investing in engineering apprenticeships? Will he follow that constructive line, which has been taken in Germany?
§ Mr. Lee
The Government are spending overall about £3.5 billion a year on employment and training measures. 714 We now have in place probably the most comprehensive range of training measures almost anywhere in the western world.
With regard to Leith and the Edinburgh travel-to-work area, I am pleased to note that, since January 1984, there has been a reduction of 9.4 per cent. among those aged under 25 who have been unemployed.
§ Mr. Marlow
Has my hon. Friend read the Audit Commission report, which says that in parts of inner London 45 per cent. of young people are unemployed and 60 per cent. of young blacks are unemployed? My hon. Friend will know that London is awash with work opportunities. He will also know that the Inner London education authority spends twice as much per head in educating the young people in London. They are therefore obviously properly educated. Why do they not get some work? What will my hon. Friend do to ensure that they take jobs when they are available?
§ Mr. Lee
Certainly in the past, across the political divide, we have failed to educate and train our people properly. There are job opportunities in inner city London. Indeed, I noticed in the Manchester Evening News last Thursday that there were no fewer than 28 pages of jobs available in that inner city.
§ Mr. Leighton
Can the Minister explain why the Government are cutting, economising on and thereby damaging, the community programme? Is it so that he can steer the 18 to 25-year-olds away from the community programme and on to the new job training scheme which is an even cheaper way of taking people off the register? Has not the Manpower Services Commission been told to make cuts of 10 per cent. across the board in the community programme? Is he aware that I have been told by local MSC staff that even people now on the programme could be made redundant? Would not that be an appalling experience for them?
§ Mr. Lawler
Has not unemployment among those under 25 actually fallen by 80,000 over the last year, and as a percentage of total unemployment has it not also fallen? Is this not a reflection of the success of YTS as an employment-creating scheme?