HC Deb 09 June 1992 vol 209 cc139-40
13. Mr. David Evans

To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what plans she has for introducing a community work requirement for the payment of unemployment benefit.

Mrs. Gillian Shephard

We have no such plans.

Mr. Evans

I thank the Secretary of State for that reply. Is she aware that many of the long-term unemployed are layabouts? They should have to do community work before receiving benefit. The taxpayers are sick and tired of financing these layabouts. Will she introduce new legislation so that for every year that these layabouts are on the dole one week's employment benefit is stopped? Will she introduce that legislation, because after the next election the lot opposite are going to be the new long-term unemployed?

Mrs. Shephard

The taxpayers have every right to expect good value for money from programmes designed for unemployed people. I should like to reasssure my hon. Friend that we are already providing a wider variety of help than ever before through employment and training programmes to get long-term unemployed people back to work. That includes, of course, help for unemployed people to improve their skills on employment action, and I hope that that reassures my hon. Friend.

Mr. Battle

Given that the Treasury today announced that it has revised the estimate of economic growth down to 0.5 per cent., is not the implication that at least 3.5 million real people will be unemployed by Christmas? Will not that be a drain on the nation's resources that none of her schemes will tackle?

Mrs. Shephard

What is certain is that if the Labour party had been elected, with its wholly unrealistic economic policies, that total would have been reached and passed.

Mr. Rathbone

Will my right hon. Friend consider the particular difficulty of people who left school at 16, went through training and into a job but who, through no fault of their own, now find themselves unemployed? There seems to be a gap in benefits for them.

Mrs. Shephard

Entitlement to benefit, as my hon. Friend will know, is a matter for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Social Security, but there are special arrangements for young people who find themselves in the circumstances that my hon. Friend describes.