HC Deb 14 January 1999 vol 323 cc429-31
5. Mr. Simon Hughes (Southwark, North and Bermondsey)

How many Londoners benefited from the new deal for young people during 1998. [64040]

The Minister for Employment, Welfare to Work and Equal Opportunities (Mr. Andrew Smith)

Latest figures to the end of November show that over 28,000 18 to 24-year-olds have benefited from the new deal in London.

Mr. Hughes

Those figures do not reveal that the outcome in London has been relatively poor. Given that Glasgow, the worst area in Scotland in terms of the new deal, is better than half of London; given that Liverpool has had a better outcome than two thirds of London; and given that the worst area in Wales in terms of jobs from the new deal has had a better outcome than all but three of the 20 areas in London, what will the Minister do to make sure that London as a whole has a much better success rate and, in particular, that my borough of Southwark—which is bottom of the league table—has a better success rate than less than 10 per cent. of those who go into the new deal coming out with jobs? In Southwark, the general view is that it has been a lot of money for very little product.

Mr. Smith

There would have been no product at all if the hon. Gentleman had had his way, because there would have been no new deal. He should not talk down the achievements of the new deal in London, which has placed 5,000 young people in jobs, 2,500 in full-time education and training and another 800 in the environmental task force and voluntary sector programmes. The hon. Gentleman should remember that London has 14 of the 22 most deprived local authority districts in the country, and that is why young people there particularly need the help that the new deal provides.

We have set up a business coalition for London, which is mobilising London businesses to help youngsters in the most deprived parts of the city. A continuous improvement strategy—focusing on job placement, job retention, qualifications gained and the satisfaction of young people and businesses with the new deal programme—will focus especially on what else can be done to improve the performance in London. The hon. Gentleman should not sell that down the river.

Kali Mountford (Colne Valley)

I am glad to hear the figures that my right hon. Friend has just given—particularly the fact that 5,000 young Londoners have found jobs as a result of the new deal. That is a price worth paying, and it reflects the fact that 52,000 other youngsters have found work through the new deal. Given that important fact—and knowing that social deprivation often comes from unemployment—does the Minister understand why the Conservative party is opposed to the new deal and that great success? If he does understand it, can he explain it to me, because I certainly do not?

Mr. Smith

It is incomprehensible. The Conservative party opposed the new deal at the general election—the Liberal Democrats opposed the means of funding it—and all they can do is repeat their catastrophic failure in terms of youth unemployment, and unemployment in general in this country, which left a whole generation neglected and its needs ignored. The new deal is bringing the help that we promised at the general election, and to have 52,500 young people in work only seven months into a new programme is a major achievement of which we are proud.

Mr. John Bercow (Buckingham)

Will the Minister confirm that the average cost per job of the new deal programme in London is £11,000, by comparison with £443 for a job obtained from a job club and £282 per job through the restart programme? Given that, only this week, we have witnessed among young Londoners between 18 and 24 a substantial increase in the number of those who have been unemployed for between six and 12 months, why does not the right hon. Gentleman cease to be so wet behind the ears and admit that the programme has been a colossal and expensive failure?

Mr. Smith

The figures quoted by the hon. Gentleman are a grotesque fabrication by his hon. Friends on the Opposition Front Bench. The true average cost of securing jobs through the new deal is about £1,000, and very good value that represents. It is money well spent, bringing hope and opportunity to young people who would be denied them by the hon. Gentleman and his hon. Friends. As for the labour force survey statistics, they show that over 14,000 more young people in that age group have gained employment since the new deal started.

Forward to