HC Deb 17 November 2003 vol 413 cc475-7
10. Siobhain McDonagh (Mitcham and Morden)

If he will make a statement on the impact of the new deal for young people. [138642]

The Minister for Work (Mr. Desmond Browne)

The new deal has already helped nearly 450,000 young people into work, including 720 in my hon. Friend's constituency.

Along with our other welfare-to-work policies, the new deal has helped reduce youth unemployment to around its lowest level since the mid 1970s and has virtually eradicated long-term youth unemployment. The new deal for young people has been a great success. To put that achievement in perspective, I remind hon. Members that between 1990 and 1992, when the current Leader of the Opposition was Secretary of State for Employment, youth unemployment rose by 60 per cent.; since 1997, it has been reduced by 40 per cent.

Siobhain McDonagh

I thank my hon. Friend for that answer. Given the scheme's great success in my constituency and others, will he tell the House what work has been done on what the impact might be if it were withdrawn?

Mr. Browne

I know that my hon. Friend strongly supports the work done by Jobcentre Plus in her constituency. She will know from her experience how many individuals the new deal for young people has helped—it has helped 720 people in her constituency in six years. If she can contemplate 720 people becoming unemployed for 18 months or more in her constituency, it would be a decent measure of what abandoning the new deal for young people would do over the next six years.

Mr. George Osborne (Tatton)

The new deal for young people cost taxpayers a third of a billion pounds last year, so we are entitled to ask whether it helps young people. The Employment Service survey found that three out of four new deal options reduce the chance of a young person moving away from the new deal itself or jobseeker's allowance. Is the Minister happy with that?

Mr. Browne

May I first congratulate the hon. Gentleman on his promotion to the Front Bench? I look forward to working with him on the part of the brief for which he is responsible. When he has an opportunity to acquaint himself with more information about the new deal for young people, he will come across independent research by the National Institute of Economic and Social Research, which found both that long-term youth unemployment would have been twice as high without the new deal and that a large number of young people left unemployment quicker than they would have done without it. That same institution has produced research showing that the economy as a whole is richer by £500 million a year as a result of the new deal for young people. It is more than justified by those factors alone.

Mr. Ian Davidson (Glasgow, Pollok)

While I accept that many young people have indeed been helped by the scheme, many others seem to have disappeared from the system: they neither appear on the records nor are they in work. Is the Minister, like me, worried that they are being deserted by the system?

Mr. Browne

I hear what my hon. Friend has to say. I know from the interest that he takes in his constituents that he speaks with some degree of knowledge of the labour market in Glasgow. I can reassure him by saying that research shows that approximately the same number of young people go into work from that group as from other groups. Our Department consistently carries out research on the destinations of young people, both on leaving school and from the new deal. The evidence suggests that people leaving to unknown destinations are just as likely to enter jobs as those leaving to known destinations—about 57 per cent. do SO.