§ The Minister for Employment, Welfare to Work and Equal Opportunities (Ms Tessa Jowell)
I am delighted to say that more than 79,000 employers have shown their support for the new deal by signing employer agreements.
§ Mr. Ashton
That is excellent news, and I hope that many other employers, such as small businesses, will join them. Is my right hon. Friend aware that in my constituency in north Nottinghamshire, as well as in north Derbyshire and other parts of the midlands, there have recently been hundreds of redundancies in the textile industry? Many of those people are over 50 and are in despair about being made redundant for the first time in their lives, even though their unemployment may be short term. Will my right hon. Friend use the maximum publicity to emphasise to those people that the new deal provides excellent retraining facilities and a guaranteed minimum income of £170 a week, and that 2 million people aged 50 or over are eligible to join?
§ Ms Jowell
I thank my hon. Friend for his question. He is a staunch advocate of the new deal in his constituency, which has helped employment to rise and unemployment to fall there. We are deeply concerned about the fact that in his and surrounding constituencies, about 6,000 people are facing redundancy. Through the rapid response unit and the new deal for 50-plus, we have to send the message that if people lose their job at 50, their working life is not over.
§ Mr. Graham Brady (Altrincham and Sale, West)
Will the Minister confirm that the most recent research undertaken by the National Centre for Social Research, surveying 3,200 employers, shows that 69 per cent. of the jobs that people go into from the new deal would have been created without the new deal? Is that not 9 per cent. more than the Government's previous estimates? Will she also confirm that the survey found that half of those people lost their jobs within nine months? If 69 per cent. would have gained their jobs without the new deal, is it not correct to say that the £800 million that the Government have spent on the new deal for young people works out at a cost per job created of £18,000? Will she confirm that the new deal is a costly and bureaucratic failure?
§ Ms Jowell
The real deadweight on the new deal is the Opposition's attitude. The new deal is not a job creation programme. Two thirds of the young people interviewed by the National Centre for Social Research survey were still in work after six months. Many of the nine out of 10 people he mentioned have gone on to other jobs, as part of a dynamic labour market. As the Opposition's favourite job in relation to the new deal is to misquote and misrepresent, let me tell the House what the National Centre for Social Research actually found. On subsidised employment, which accounts for 10 per cent. of the new deal,Employers were mainly satisfied with the way in which the new deal is administered and with the wage subsidy.The problem is the Opposition and their hypocrisy. They weep crocodile tears about the new deal, but if they ever got power, there would be no new deal.
§ Mr. Bob Blizzard (Waveney)
May I bring to my right hon. Friend's attention the excellent work carried out by the Broads authority in employing many young people on the environmental taskforce new deal option, which has given valuable experience to lots of people and resulted in good work for the environment? The Broads authority has employed those people directly; I believe that it is the only national park to do so. May I suggest that the other national parks be encouraged to follow suit, so that the environmental taskforce option achieves further success?
§ Ms Jowell
I thank my hon. Friend for that question. Throughout the country, derelict land, parks and inner cities are being regenerated by young people through the environmental taskforce. He makes an important point: the new deal is not only about getting young people into jobs, but about giving them the skills that will equip them to stay in work for the rest of their lives.