HC Deb 31 October 1989 vol 159 cc162-3
5. Mr. Amess

To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what are the latest unemployment figures for the constituency of Basildon and for the same period in each of the last six years.

Mr. Eggar

In September 1983 there were 6,532 unemployed claimants in the parliamentary constituency of Basildon compared with 2,439 in September this year. With permission, I will publish the detailed figures in the Official Report

Mr. Amess

Is my hon. Friend aware that the sign displaying the number of people without work in Basildon has been taken down, although the local Labour party claimed that it fell down as a result of rusty screws? Does he agree that the downward trend of unemployment in Basildon reflects the successes of local businesses, the availability of a willing work force and the underlying strength of the British economy?

Mr. Eggar

I am pleased to congratulate employers and employees in Basildon on the considerable increase in economic activity that has led to many new jobs. If I may dare to make a recommendation to my hon. Friend, I suggest that he offers the council some new screws so that it can publicise the fact that unemployment in Basildon has fallen by more than 30 per cent. in the past year alone.

Mr. Tony Lloyd

Is the Minister aware that the Secretary of State recently advised young people in Basildon and other areas who are presently in receipt of income support or unemployment benefit to refuse offers of jobs if they did not contain a significant training element leading to a qualification? The Secretary of State seems to agree that that is accurate. Is the Minister further aware that under the present regulations if young people refuse jobs they will have their benefit suspended? Did the Secretary of State not think through his comments or was he announcing that the regulations would be changed to allow people to refuse jobs on that basis?

Mr. Eggar

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State made it clear that in the 1990s we expect that youngsters will have the choice of moving into full-time education or jobs with training. That is the desire of the Government and of employers.

Following is the information:

In September 1989 there were 2,439 unemployed claimants in the parliamentary constituency of Basildon. The table shows the number of unemployed claimants in the constituency of Basildon for each September from 1983 to 1988. The figures are affected by the change in the compilation of the count in March 1986 to reduce over-recording and by the change in the coverage of the count from September 1988 due to the introduction of new benefit regulations for young people aged under 18.

Unemployment in Parliamentary Constituency of Basildon
September Number of unemployed claimants
1983 6,532
1984 7,050
1985 6,634
1986 6,157
1987 5,032
1988 3,495