HC Deb 18 March 1999 vol 327 cc1248-50
8. Mr. Lawrie Quinn (Scarborough and Whitby)

How many young people in (a) Scarborough and Whitby, (b) North Yorkshire and (c)the United Kingdom have obtained employment through the new deal to date. [75582]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education and Employment (Ms Margaret Hodge)

New deal has made an encouraging start and in the North Yorkshire unit of delivery, which covers Scarborough and Whitby, 385 young people have found employment. In Great Britain, 58,500 have found employment.

Mr. Quinn

My constituents and everyone in the country will be pleased to know that 385 people in the North Yorkshire delivery unit have found work. However, may I gently ask the Department whether, in an area such as my constituency, where there is a discrete travel-to-work area and where unemployment is more than 40 per cent. higher than the national average, it would be possible to focus on the actual area where there is most concern? A needs-driven agenda would enable us to do more work not only to give more help to the youngsters who have benefited from the new deal but to extend that to people over 55 who could benefit from it. We welcome the progress that will be made for those people. Many people in my constituency are looking to the Government to deliver in this area. I believe that we can, and I should like to have the statistics to prove it.

Ms Hodge

I congratulate my hon. Friend on the work that he is doing on behalf of his constituents and I know of the work that he is doing with my colleagues on linking educational standards with employment opportunities. He is right to point out that there are concentrations of unemployment in large units. I know that unemployment is 6.6 per cent. in Scarborough and Whitby, whereas it is 3.3 per cent. in the whole North Yorkshire unit of delivery. Obviously, the programme is designed to meet the needs of people who find themselves unemployed, and the purpose of the new deals, for the young unemployed, the long-term unemployed and—when it comes into being—for those over 50 is to focus on areas of greatest need.

Mr. Owen Paterson (North Shropshire)

How much taxpayers' money has been spent on each of the young people who have obtained a full-time job through the new deal?

Ms Hodge

The hon. Gentleman will know that it is far too early to make a rigorous assessment of the cost per job, but he will know that, for the first time, the Government are making a completely transparent and thorough assessment of our investment into all the new deals. We believe at this point that the figure per job is about £1,000.

Ms Candy Atherton (Falmouth and Camborne)

Will my hon. Friend send a message of congratulation to the Employment Service in Cornwall? Does she agree that it has been particularly successful and innovative as a pathfinder of the new deal?

Ms Hodge

I congratulate my hon. Friend and the people working in her local employment office on the excellent work that they have done. It is our view that they have been one of the most successful employment offices in finding jobs for unemployed people in that area. It is interesting to note that 18 per cent. more young people are moving off benefit in the pathfinder areas than in the non-pathfinder areas. That is further evidence, for those who still require it, that our new deal for young people is working.

Mr. Damian Green (Ashford)

The Minister's complacency about the new deal flies in the face of the evidence. Will she confirm that yesterday's unemployment figures reveal that, since the national introduction of the new deal for young people, unemployment among young people has risen by 22,000, and has risen every quarter? Does she not recognise the plain truth that, in its first year of operation, the new deal is proving an expensive failure?

Ms Hodge

It is typical of the Opposition—who never did anything to tackle unemployment—to criticise a programme that is demonstrating great success, even in its early days. Unemployment among young people has dropped by 50 per cent. since May 1997. That demonstrates the success of our programme.